Women’s Tennis: Lui, Murray paired together for doubles meet, earn two weekend wins

Katherine Driessen

It was a fitting weekend for No. 9 Northwestern to celebrate seniors Lauren Lui and Samantha Murray. After a slew of tough losses, the Wildcats rebounded to play in the manner that Lui and Murray are most accustomed to-victoriously.

NU snatched definitive wins over No. 20 Iowa and No. 60 Minnesota at home.

“It’s a little sad today, ” Lui said. “But luckily we ended it on a good note. Hopefully we’ll do well in the NCAA’s and this won’t be my last home match.”

The Cats came into the weekend hoping to improve on a rough stretch of losses, including last weekend’s roadtrip down south in which they lost to No. 1 Baylor and No. 27 Texas. For the first time in 10 seasons, the Cats are struggling to maintain their place in the Big Ten. This weekend’s wins were important in solidifying NU’s place at the top of the conference, though it still trails No. 5 Michigan.

On Saturday the Cats captured a deft win over Hawkeyes, only dropping one match on the afternoon. On Sunday NU honored Lui and Murray after doubles play, and both went on to win their singles matches. Coach Claire Pollard said the seniors have led the Cats through a string of tough losses.

“You know neither of them are the most vocal girls, it’s just not their style,” Pollard said.”But they lead by example, which can be an even tougher task. They have meant so much to this program.”

Pollard paid homage to the seniors by pairing them at doubles for the first time since 2007 against the Gophers.

Murray and Lui bear little resemblance on the court. Murray, who hails from Altrincham, England, plays a commanding power game with her 5-foot-9 height. Lui, a Houston native, stands several inches shorter and finesses her shots with a wicked left hand shot. Despite losing in a tiebreak, Lui and Murray relished the opportunity to take the court together.

“I love playing with Speeds (Lui),” Murray said. “We wanted to win, but we we’re just so glad to be able to play together-it was a lot of fun.”

Though it was their last regular season home match, the seniors might find themselves back in Evanston if they perform well in the next couple weeks to host NCAA preliminary rounds. Pollard said the Cats will need to return to the sort of form that won them the ITA Indoor Championships in late February if they want to do well in May. Over the past three years, NU’s championship efforts have been stymied in the quarterfinals.

The Cats will have one last chance to prove themselves before heading into tournament play when they face Penn State and Ohio State on the road next weekend.

“We played really well at the ITA’s and we’re on the road trying to get back there,” Pollard said. “The only problem is, at this point in the season that road needs to be a lot shorter.”

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