Women’s Tennis: Baylor snaps NU’s nine-game winning streak, beats Cats 4-3

Dan Ryan

Some losses are tough to swallow. Others cause sleepless nights for days on end.

Northwestern’s loss against Baylor was the latter.

The No. 7 Bears staged a rally down 0-3 to defeat the No. 15 Wildcats 4-3 on Thursday, halting NU’s nine-game winning streak and handing the Cats their second home loss this season.

After less-than-stellar doubles performances against Illinois and Notre Dame, NU opened up the meet looking sharp. Senior Maria Mosolova and freshman Belinda Niu held the lead for most of their No. 2 match and easily closed out an 8-4 win. At No. 3 doubles, junior Elena Chernyakova and sophomore Brittany Wowchuck overcame an early deficit to post an 8-4 win of their own at No. 3 doubles. The No. 1 line of sophomore Linda Abu Mushrefova and freshman Nida Hamilton could not complete the sweep, however, losing 4-8.

Coach Claire Pollard hesitated to draw any conclusions from the team’s doubles play.

“It’s Baylor’s weakest point,” Pollard said. ” So I was hoping we’d get that point, but I was really impressed with how No. 3 played today.”

Things continued to go well for the Cats as singles play opened. Sophomore Kate Turvy jumped out to a 5-0 lead at No. 3 singles and junior Stacey Lee wrapped up a quick 6-2 first set win at No. 5 singles. At the No. 1 spot, Mosolova fought through a back-and-forth first set to finally take a 7-6 win after a tiebreaker.

Mosolova returned in the second set with a purpose, and closed out the No. 1 singles match with an easy 6-2 second frame. Wowchuck completed a comeback 2-6 6-2 6-3 victory at No. 4 singles, and NU looked to be in control.

“Most of the games were really close,” Wowchuck said. “I knew that if I could just make my ball taller and get more balls in the court it would end up changing the match.”

At that point, however, the wheels fell off for the Cats.

Turvy, after getting her early lead, could not hold off a furious comeback from junior Diana Nakic and lost 7-6 6-2 at No. 3 singles. Abu Mushrefova split the first two sets of her match and held a 3-0 lead in the third but could not hold on, falling 2-6 6-1 7-5.

Before NU knew what had happened, the scoreboard read 3-3 and Lee was the last Wildcat on the courts.

After splitting the first two sets, Lee found herself in a back-and-forth third set with senior Jelena Stanivuk. At one point leading 6-5 and two points from victory, Lee had no answer for Stanivuk’s serve-and-volley play and could not find a way to break the senior. Tying it up at 6-6, Stanivuk charged ahead in the tiebreaker, winning 7-4 and securing the meet for Baylor.

“We competed hard,” Pollard said. “I’m proud of the effort that we gave, came up a little bit short, but all credit to (Stanivuk). She just played a great third set there. Too good.”

Despite the heart wrenching loss, the Cats tried to find a silver lining. Mosolova looked at the match as good preparation for when NU faces off against Big Ten co-leader Michgan.

“It was definitely a tough match for us,” Mosolova said. “But we think it’s going to pay off for us next week when we play Michigan because we played two really tough teams in the past two weeks. They gave us a great fight, we just have to come away and learn something from it.”

NU has a day off before returning to the courts to face Big Ten foes Indiana and Purdue over the weekend.

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