Women’s Tennis: Wildcats get their revenge on Commodores

Chris Johnson

After opening their 2011 dual slate with a hard-fought 4-3 loss at Vanderbilt, No. 12 Northwestern looked to exact some revenge at Combe Tennis Center on Saturday when they welcomed the No. 15 Commodores for their 2012 dual opener.

The Wildcats defeated the SEC foe in convincing fashion, taking two of three doubles matches and four of six singles matches to secure a 5-2 victory.

“At no point today did I think for sure that we were going to win,” coach Claire Pollard said. “I felt like Vanderbilt hung around and competed very hard. But we were resilient, we kept our composure and we’ve talked a lot about handling the mental ups and downs of a match. I thought we did that well today.”

In doubles, the Wildcats’ vaunted pair of Linda Abu Mushrefova and Nida Hamilton – ranked No. 6 in the nation according to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association – topped the Commodores’ Jackie Wu and Alex Leatu, 8-4.

“It was our first match, so we obviously had to get some nerves out,” Abu Mushrefova said. “We just really wanted to play well together. We have a year behind us, so we have that going for us. We just really wanted to get off to a good start this season.”

Sophomore Belinda Niu and junior Kate Turvy followed Abu Mushrefova and Hamilton’s win with an impressive performance of their own, defeating Nelly Radeva and Lauren Mira to clinch the doubles point for the Cats.

Abu Mushrefova earned her second win of the day when she defeated Vanderbilt’s Radeva 6-3, 6-3. Niu, 26th-ranked Turvy and 86th-ranked junior Brittany Wowchuk also won singles matches for the Wildcats.

In her No. 1 singles bout, Turvy looked poised to cruise to an easy victory after dominating 23rd-ranked Wu, 6-1, in the first set. But Wu got off to a fast start in the second set to put the junior in a 4-1 hole. Turvy clawed back, winning five straight games to take the second set and the match.

“It started really well. I was really excited to get out there and play a tough opponent,” Turvy said. “I played a really good first set, but I don’t think that she was playing her best tennis. I kind of backed off a little bit there in the second set, but I was able to put everything together. I thought I fought hard and competed well.”

NU gets one week off before hosting Dartmouth in the ITA Indoor Team Championship – Qualifying. The 56th-ranked Big Green is 0-1 on the season. Pollard said her team finally appears to be getting healthy.

“We’ve turned the corner health-wise,” Pollard said. “We’re hoping to get (freshman) Anna (Livadaru) back at some point, but she’s not there yet. I think we’ve turned the corner, we just need to make sure that everyone is doing their best to get back to 100 percent.”

[email protected]