Women’s Tennis: Northwestern advances with shutout of Akron

Rebecca Friedman

Northwestern zipped past Akron with a 4-0 victory in the first round of the NCAA Championships.

The Wildcats outlasted their opponents with a 2-0 victory in doubles and three consecutive singles victories as the sun shone brightly down on the Vandy Christy Tennis Center in Evanston.

“We had a good start in doubles,” said coach Claire Pollard, who acknowledged the fast start by the Cats could have been intimidating to the Zips.

The No. 1 doubles pairing of sophomores Veronica Corning and Linda Abu Mushrefova were the first to get on the board for the Cats with an 8-3 victory. The No. 3 doubles pairing of junior Kate Turvy and sophomore Belinda Niu clinched the doubles point for NU shortly after with an 8-3 victory of their own.

Niu played one of her best matches of the year, with a solid performance in her No. 3 doubles win as well as her 6-1, 6-1 victory at No. 2 singles.

Pollard said her practice plan for Niu seems to have paid off. “I tried to focus on my serve holding percentage,” Niu said. “When I hold my serve I have a lot more confidence.” Junior Brittany Wowchuk was also impressive at No. 3 singles with a 6-0, 6-1 victory to get the third point of the day for NU. Sophomore Nida Hamilton clinched the match for the Cats at No. 6 singles with a dominant 6-1, 6-1 win.

“I tried to get a strong start,” Hamilton said. “I heard when Belinda won and I could see Brit’s score. I know I was the last on that was close to winning and tried to finish off quickly.”

Earlier in the day, Notre Dame knocked off Hawaii 4-0 to pass through the first round and earn the chance to face the Cats in the round of 32 on Saturday. The last matchup between the Fighting Irish and the Cats was on April 4 in South Bend, Ind. where the Cats came from behind to grab a 4-3 victory.

“We know them well and they know us well,” Pollard said. “It’s going to come down to execution.”

Niu noted that since their last match against Notre Dame, their doubles has greatly improved and that they “look forward to taking that first point.” Niu also added the Cats have confidence knowing that they took four singles matches from the Fighting Irish.

NU put on an impressive performance since last playing in the Big Ten Tournament where Purdue knocked them off in the semifinals.

“It’s been such a long time,” Pollard said. “We’re using it as a motivator.”

Hamilton added that the Cats didn’t change anything in practice since the Tournament.

“Each person just worked on what they needed to,” she said.