Women’s Tennis: Northwestern clinches Big Ten title with weekend sweep

Ava Wallace

It’s a good thing tennis championship trophies aren’t given out as rings, because coach Claire Pollard wouldn’t have enough fingers for them all.

No. 12 Northwestern (17-7, 10-1) blanked No. 47 Indiana (15-9, 4-6) 7-0 Sunday to take home its 14th Big Ten Championship trophy in school history, the 12th during Pollard’s 14 years as coach.

“We all worked so hard today and tried to play through when we weren’t playing well,” sophomore Nida Hamilton said. “We really wanted to end the regular season on a good note. We’re all really excited about this match.”

The Wildcats took the doubles point in both weekend matches, the fifth and sixth time in as many contests that they have earned the point with the same lineup.

The Big Ten Tournament starts Thursday in Columbus, Ohio, and Pollard said she will likely stick with this doubles lineup after experimenting with different pairs earlier this spring.

“The doubles was a point that we saw all along as something that we could improve on throughout the season,” Pollard said. “I absolutely credit the girls for all of their hard work. It took a long time to get there, but we kept problem-solving and eventually came up with something that’s working.”

NU started the weekend with a home match Friday against No. 29 Purdue, which the Cats won 5-2. The lone NU losses came at the top two singles positions, with Turvy and Niu losing in straight sets. Needing a victory to clinch a share of the Big Ten title and the top seed in the Big Ten Tournament, NU was able to claw out the 7-0 win over Indiana on Sunday.

Two of the singles matches NU eventually won went the full three sets. Abu Mushrefova’s three-set victory over Indiana’s Alecia Kauss extended her winning streak to four, the longest active streak on the team

Pollard said mental strength will be the team’s priority in preparation for the tournament.

“We’re very, very tough when we’re in a good mental state,” Pollard said. “But when we let our demons get to us, we’re much more human.”

She also said that after one day of rest Monday, the team will train hard for a couple of days to get ready to play Friday against the winner of the opening round match between Ohio State and Penn State.

“I don’t think we’ll take is so easy this week,” Pollard said. “The harder they’ve worked and the more prepared they feel, the better this team is.”

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