Women’s Tennis: Pollard cruises to 300th career win

Dan Ryan

Winning has become second nature to Northwestern during Claire Pollard’s tenure with the Wildcats. So it comes as no surprise that the 13-year coach passed another milestone this weekend, winning her 300th dual match on Saturday.

No. 16 NU (14-5, 6-0 Big Ten) took down conference foe Iowa (5-12, 2-4) 6-1 on Saturday and followed up with a 5-2 outdoor victory over a resilient Illinois (8-9, 4-2) team on Sunday.

Pollard’s milestone win was never in doubt. Junior Elena Chernyakova and sophomore Brittany Wowchuk rolled over their opponents 8-0 at No. 3 doubles to improve to 8-1 on the year. Down 3-1 to start their match, senior Maria Mosolova and freshman Belinda Niu stormed back to seal the No. 2 doubles point with an 8-5 victory.

Iowa fought against the doubles sweep, however, and sophomore Linda Abu Mushrefova and freshman Nida Hamilton could not hang on to a 5-3 lead, falling at No. 1 doubles 6-8.

From then on it was all Cats. After sophomore Kate Turvy took a 5-3 victory by default at No. 3 singles, Hamilton completed a 6-1 6-0 waxing of her opponent for a win at No. 6 singles. Not to be outdone, Abu Mushrefova was not far behind at No. 5 singles with a 6-1 6-0 victory of her own, and after the first four points had been decided, NU had the win.

“As a team, we all competed really well in all the spots,” Chernyakova said. “Our main goal for the weekend was to compete regardless of who our opponent is and we did a good job of that.”

Things were a little tougher for the Cats against the Illini, but not by much. NU and Illinois split the first two doubles matches and Illinois had a 5-3 advantage over Abu Mushrefova and Hamilton at No. 1 doubles. The duo staged a tough rally, however, and fought their way to a tiebreaker, eventually securing the match 9-8 (8-6) and the doubles point.

Junior Stacey Lee quickly added to the lead with a dominating 6-0 6-1 win at No. 5 singles, and sophomore Kate Turvy followed suit with a relatively quick 6-1 6-4 victory at No. 3 singles.

Illinois fought off the loss as best they could. At No. 1 singles, Mosolova gained an easy 6-2 first-set win but had significantly more trouble in the second. She staved off a tough rally from junior Amy Allin to secure the second set 7-5, and with it the match.

“It was a great weekend for us,” Pollard said. “Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, tough weekend. We looked a little tired today with the heat, it was good for us though. I’m really glad we got those conditions. But we can’t do better than going 3-0.”

It was an even better weekend for the 13-year coach, who has amassed a 301-64 record, good for an .825 winning percentage.

“I’ve been lucky to have such great players in the program over the years,” Pollard said. “They deserve all the credit for the wins. I just focus on one win at a time. I couldn’t tell you our team record right now. Certainly couldn’t tell you how many matches I’ve won here at Northwestern. I’m just focused on every day getting to four points.”

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