Women’s Tennis: Cats travel to Michigan for ITA Midwest Regional Championships

David Lee, Reporter

After posting a dominating team performance at the Wildcat Invitational last weekend, Northwestern took its show on the road as the Cats traveled to Ann Arbor, Mich., for the ITA Midwest Regional Championships on Thursday.

The tournament marks the Cats’ first road trip this season.

Qualifying matches for the tournament began Thursday morning. Freshman Brooke Rischbieth played Elaine Cloern of Wright State University, and freshman Maddie Lipp faced off against Toledo University’s Katelyn Nguyen. Fellow freshman Jillian Rooney received an automatic bid into Thursday’s second round of qualifiers.

Rischbieth was the only competitor of the freshmen trio not to advance past the qualifiers. She defeated Cloern in her first contest with a sound 6-2, 2-0 victory but couldn’t muster the same performance in her second-round defeat to Eastern Michigan’s Nino Mebuke. Meanwhile, Lipp outdid her two opponents in two consecutive matches, earning a spot in the top-16 qualifying round Friday morning. She will be joined by Rooney, who zipped through her singles match against Big Ten foe Sydney Rider of Wisconsin 6-0, 6-1.

With the first round of singles under their belts, the Cats will kick off doubles play Friday morning as well. Of NU’s four duos, only one pair will compete in the first round. The remaining will ride their first round bye into the second bracket.

The pairings are mixtures of the Cats’ youth and experience, with three of the tandems combining a freshman with an upperclassman. Aside from the experienced tag team comprised of sophomore Alicia Barnett and Veronica Corning, all partners will continue to learn how to develop a winning dynamic on the court in NU’s second tournament this fall. Barnett and Corning combined to claim victory in 13 doubles matches last season.

Corning, who took home both singles and doubles titles at last weekend’s tournament, will begin her rounds at the ITA Midwest Regionals on Saturday. She said her main focus right now is to continue refining her play.

“Even if I don’t do well, but I work on something, get better, that’s all that matters,” she said.

As one of the oldest players on the squad, Corning said she sees herself as the example for her teammates. She said she hones her game in an effort to inspire this year’s team, which features four freshmen.

“A lot of new players have come in this year, so recently what I’m working on right now is just to improve,” Corning said.

The Cats have made strong showings in the past at the ITA Midwest Regionals. Kate Turvy won the 2012 tournament in a thrilling three-set match. She was just one of many NU players to dominate at the event, as the Cats have taken 10 of the last 14 singles titles at this competition.

Corning said the team is focusing on its strength and speed in preparation for the season. She said she believes that the team can continue its pattern of success. NU has been a conference superpower for more than a decade.

“Everybody’s working very hard, and I think all the hard work will pay off,” she said.

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