Women’s Tennis: Northwestern continues surge to top of Big Ten

The Wildcats got a scare Sunday but still raised their winning streak to seven matches.

No. 11 Northwestern (15-7, 8-1 Big Ten) was without the services of top singles player Kate Turvy against No. 61 Ohio State (8-14, 3-6) after the junior hurt her back in her doubles win with partner Belinda Niu. The sophomore took over at the No. 1 singles spot for her doubles partner and shone, racing to a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Kelsey Haviland to help the Cats beat the Buckeyes 5-2.

“I had never played in the one spot,” Niu said. “I wanted to win.”

The win over the Buckeyes came on the heels of NU’s 6-1 triumph over No. 52 Penn State (11-9, 3-6) the previous day.

Coach Claire Pollard said the Big Ten is much deeper this season, and every match is competitive, unlike the past couple of years, in which the Cats had a far easier time in conference.

In both matches the Cats got off to a good start, winning two of three doubles matches against the Nittany Lions and sweeping all three against the Buckeyes. NU has had difficulties earning the doubles point all year and has made its doubles play a focus at practice.

Junior Linda Abu Mushrefova said the Cats have solidified their lineup at doubles and are now able to become more familiar with their partners and their playing styles. Niu noted her pairing with Turvy was finding more confidence in their play after hitting a rough patch in the middle of the season.

After getting the doubles point against Penn State, NU sophomore Veronica Corning got the team’s second point in a 6-1, 6-2 win at No. 4 singles. Mushrefova moved the Cats even closer to victory with an impressive 6-0, 6-2 victory at No. 5 singles. No. 13 Turvy clinched the match for the Cats with a dominant 6-1, 6-1 victory against No. 74 Petra Januskova in the No. 1 singles spot.

After the Cats clinched the victory, Niu and sophomore Nida Hamilton closed out their matches with wins against tough opponents, while junior Brittany Wowchuk was unable to hold on in a third-set tiebreaker after splitting the first two sets.

After 8-3 victories at No. 3 and No. 1 doubles, the Buckeyes battled in the two spot, fighting back from a 7-3 deficit and pushing the match into a tiebreaker. Wowchuk and Hamilton bounced back and took the tiebreaker, finishing off the doubles sweep for the Cats.

Turvy’s injury forced the rest of the lineup to move up a spot, and Stacey Lee came in at the No. 6 singles position. The senior won her match in straight sets 6-2, 6-3 to push the NU lead to 3-0.

No. 62 Wowchuk clinched the match for the Cats with an impressive 6-4, 6-3 victory in a well-fought match against Kara Cecil.

Corning and Hamilton were the only two Cats to fall, both in long, close matches that came down to the last points.

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