Women’s Tennis: Pollard wins No. 125, Wildcats take pair over weekend

Ava Wallace

In the first two contests of a five-match stretch on the road, the 15th-ranked Wildcats had a record-setting weekend as they moved to 9-7 for the season and 4-1 in the Big Ten.

Friday’s 5-2 win over the No. 32 Minnesota Golden Gophers marked coach Claire Pollard’s 125th regular-season win at Northwestern. The Cats rounded out the weekend with a decisive 6-1 win at Wisconsin, against whom NU hasn’t dropped a match since 1998.

“We never take winning for granted,” Pollard said. “Every match is an opportunity to go out and try and do something good.”

Gone from the Cats’ lineup this weekend was junior Linda Abu Mushrefova, who won two of three matches during Spring Break at the No. 5 singles position as well as one victory in doubles play.

Sunday’s win against the Badgers was only the sixth time the Cats took the doubles point this season.

The No. 3 doubles pairing of junior Kate Turvy and senior Stacy Lee won an impressive 8-1 match against Wisconsin. The pair of sophomores Nida Hamilton and Veronica Corning as well as the duo of junior Brittany Wowchuk and sophomore Belinda Niu also won their matches 8-4 in the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles spots, respectively.

The Wisconsin match was Lee’s second time in the doubles lineup since 2010. Pollard continues to change the doubles pairings and lineup on a match-by-match basis.

“We’ve kind of decided that everyone needs to be ready to play with everyone,” Pollard said.

Lee said Turvy’s game style meshed with hers in the chilly outdoor match against Wisconsin.

“It just worked out because the conditions were really tough,” Lee said of the Sunday afternoon win. “We’re both grinders; we ran down a lot of balls and we made our opponents have to make really good shots.”

The Cats also took five out of six singles matches against the Badgers. Lee retired in the middle of the second set after losing the first set 7-6 .

In the win over the Golden Gophers on Friday, the team was equally successful in its singles play and managed to win five out of the six singles matches after dropping the doubles point.

Though earlier in the evening it was Hamilton and Corning who lost the deciding doubles match 9-8 (3) in a close tiebreaker, Hamilton later played the No. 5 singles spot and clinched the Minnesota match with a win in straight sets, 7-5, 6-4.

“It was always a tight match, and I just happened to pull through at the right times,” Hamilton said. “Once I knew I had the win clinched we were all able to relax and play loosely.” Turvy took on the No. 1 singles spot and won 6-2, 6-0, and Niu had her first win at the No. 2 spot in three sets, 6-3, 2-6 (10-6).

With strong singles play and encouraging doubles wins to back her up, Hamilton said the team’s weekend on the road was beneficial. She stressed the need for rest before traveling to Notre Dame on Wednesday.

“This weekend was good for us. We improved a lot,” the sophomore said. “We dealt with some injuries and just have to rest up.”

Looking ahead, Hamilton said she is excited to flex some muscle in South Bend, Ind.

“We have to be positive about the next match,” she said. “We’re excited and we’ve always had a good rivalry with Notre Dame – they’re definitely going to come out and get us, so we’ll have to do the same to them.”

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