Women’s Tennis: Cats slice ‘n’ dice in ITA Kick-off Weekend

Senior Veronica Corning helped key a strong weekend for No. 15 Northwestern. Corning easily defeated two ranked opponents as the Wildcats cruised past No. 29 Oklahoma State and No. 26 Arizona State.

Daily file photo by Susan Du

Senior Veronica Corning helped key a strong weekend for No. 15 Northwestern. Corning easily defeated two ranked opponents as the Wildcats cruised past No. 29 Oklahoma State and No. 26 Arizona State.

Mike Marut, Reporter

It was sweet victory at the Combe Tennis Center for No. 15 Northwestern, who lost only one set over the whole weekend.

The Wildcats dominated both No. 29 Oklahoma State and No. 26 Arizona State at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association 2014 Kick-off Weekend. NU won both contests 4-0. Against the Cowboys, the Cats did not allow an opponent to win more than three games. Senior Veronica Corning won her match 6-1, 6-1 over Kanyapat Narattana. Junior Lok Sze Leung continued her victory streak with a win over Karyn Guttormsen  — Leung has yet to lose a set since November. Freshman Julia Rooney defeated her opponent Maria Alvarez 6-2, 6-0.

On Sunday, the Cats matched up against the Sun Devils and clawed their way to victory. The doubles point came down to the No. 2 doubles tandem, senior Nida Hamilton and freshman Maddie Lipp. The match went to a tiebreaker with the NU duo eventually winning 7-6 over Ebony Panoho and Stephanie Vlad.

“We felt confident going into the tiebreaker since we had the momentum going into it after being down … and saving a match point,” Hamilton said. “I knew that if we got off to a good start it might scare them a little bit, make them a little nervous.”

Lipp also chimed in and gave service credit to Hamilton.

“It felt good coming back,” Lipp said. “In the tiebreak we had three first good points so that really helped, and Nida served well.”

Coach Claire Pollard has expected a strong doubles point this season, and throughout her tenure at NU, the doubles point has been a big part of the Cats’ dynasty.

“It could’ve gone either way,” Pollard said. “We were fortunate to get out of there. I thought (the doubles point) would maybe come down to (No. 2 doubles) and it did. Nida has got a lot of experience, and I thought the first point of the tie-breaker when she came up and cracked a forehand really set the tone. Maddie is a phenomenal doubles player, and I feel that she knows and can carry her own weight, and I think that will be the key at that pairing.”

Corning, unranked thus far this season, fought off two ranked opponents in No. 59 Narattana of Oklahoma State and No. 50 Vlad of Arizona State. She defeated both opponents without breaking a sweat, winning her matches 6-1, 6-1 and 6-3, 6-2, respectively.

“It’s been really good,” Corning said. “I’ve been feeling really good mentally and physically. I think we all feel fresh and ready to go. We’re really excited for this year so coming out and playing these matches, I think we’re really ready for it.”

With their winning ways over the weekend, the Cats have punched their ticket to the ITA Indoor Championships held in Charlottesville, Va., Feb. 7-10. Last season, the Cats went 2-1 in the ITA Indoor Championships beating Alabama and Miami. Before the championships, NU must face Vanderbilt, who also will be heading to Charlottesville, next weekend.

“They’re better. I think they’re another great team,” Pollard said. “When you look at our non-conference schedule, we’re not playing many gimmes. It’s another tough match, but that’s what it needs (to be) especially going into Virginia. You’re going to see the top 16 teams in the country. I think playing as many matches at that level will only help us.”

Overall, Pollard was pleased with the contests’ results.

“I felt they pushed us, and we pushed right back,” Pollard said.

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