Women’s Tennis: Wildcats prepare for Big Ten Tournament

Mike Marut, Reporter

With the Big Ten Tournament beginning Thursday, the conference seeded Northwestern at No. 3 after finishing the regular season at 9-2 in conference play.

The Wildcats’ only losses in conference play came to the top two seeds, Michigan and Nebraska.

The top four seeds in the tournament have been granted a bye for the first round. NU will face No. 6 Indiana on Friday in the quarterfinals after the Hoosiers took out No. 11 Wisconsin 4-0.

“I think the key to advancing is not overlooking Indiana,” coach Claire Pollard said. “The doubles points are important. We’ve got to turn around a couple of matches that we lost in the regular season.”

Last time the Cats took on the Hoosiers, Indiana was without Carolyn Chupa due to a concussion. NU took Indiana by storm, though, and won 6-1, the only Indiana victory coming from Leslie Hureau in the No. 1 singles match. Chupa is expected to play in the tournament.

“In the tournament, any team can show up,” senior Kate Turvy said. “A lot of teams have a ton of energy since it’s just one tournament. We’re just excited to get out there no matter which team we play.”

Both Turvy and Pollard said the team has missed some opportunities this season, and NU must capitalize on those chances this weekend.

“We’re going to have to go out and fight,” Turvy said. “We’ll need to execute better. We’ve had opportunities all season, and now’s the time to execute.”

Senior Linda Abu Mushrefova believes she will have to play her top game to help the Cats reclaim the tournament title.

Tennis is not an individual sport, though, and each player must rely on the team to advance further.

“If we’re to win this tournament, then everyone’s got to (contribute),” Pollard said. “It can’t just be a couple of spots. Every day a different team (of doubles) or a different player is going to have to step up and help us win something that we were not able to do during the regular season.”

Pollard dismissed the idea of losing focus with a first-round bye. The team has not played on the first day of the tournament under Pollard’s leadership, and NU has won 13 of the last 14 Big Ten tournament titles.

Tournament play begins Thursday with seeds No. 5-12 playing in the first round.