Women’s Tennis: NU savors home court advantage

Dan Ryan

After two weeks of preparation, the Wildcats are finally set to start their NCAA Tournament run against first-round opponent and Summit League champion Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne.

For the No. 16 Cats (20-7), the downtime between the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments has been spent fine-tuning their game and addressing problem areas.

“Our fitness is a big component that we’re working on,” coach Claire Pollard said. “We want to get ourselves fitter. And then it’s just specific things for each player. We’re really looking at trying to work on our depth and our building ability, trying to get (sophomore Brittany Wowchuk) playing her best tennis. That’s a spot that we haven’t been as successful as we’d like to, and she can obviously do some great things for us. Get her on track and then make sure that we keep solidifying and improving our doubles.”

The Cats are unfamiliar with the Mastodons (27-3) outside of their record and impressive Summit League performance, and sophomore Kate Turvy said the team has simply focused on their own game rather than scout their opponent.

“We don’t know too much about them,” Turvy said. “They’re not in our conference, and we’ve never played them. So we’re just looking to focus more on ourselves and build our game up and hopefully give Notre Dame a good match if we can get through.”

Two weeks at home, as well as playing in front of the home crowd, should certainly help NU. Pollard said the familiar atmosphere allows the team some relaxation.

“We hope that the students and the community come out and support us,” Pollard. “We really like playing at home, sleeping in our own beds and just being in our own environment. I think the girls really enjoy having breakfast at Le Peep. It’s really nice. We have a great fan base. People really do a good job of coming out.”

Although NU is not overlooking IPFW, they are aware of the likely second-round matchup with Notre Dame. Earlier in the season the Cats needed a remarkable 3-0 comeback to defeat the Fighting Irish, and Pollard said the same concerns apply in the NCAA tournament.

“It’ll be a 4-3 match, one way or the other,” Pollard said. “Whoever plays better is going to win.”

Despite the potential test, Wowchuk said the team remains confident in its ability.

“It’ll be a tough match,” Wowchuk said. “But I think if we stay mentally tougher than them and focus on our game, we’ll be fine.”

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