Women’s Tennis: Despite rough weather, Wildcats prevail on Senior Day

Mike Marut, Reporter

This weekend, No. 12 Northwestern (14-6, 8-1 Big Ten) conquered Big Ten opponents Nebraska (7-11, 0-8) and Iowa (9-11, 2-7) as well as Mother Nature.

The Wildcats trounced the Cornhuskers 7-0 Saturday and beat Iowa 5-2 on Sunday.

NU beat Nebraska despite having to move from the outdoor Vandy Christie Tennis Center to the Combe Tennis Center indoors.

This was the seventh match in which NU has won every point. As always, the doubles point was immensely important to the victory. Both freshman-senior duos — Brooke Rischbieth teamed with Belinda Niu and Maddie Lipp teamed with Nida Hamilton — sealed the doubles point for the Cats. Both tandems won their matches by large margins of 8-2 and 8-1, respectively.

“Yesterday we set some performance goals to try and work on our games a little bit,” coach Claire Pollard said. “I think that translated to us performing better, so it’s something I think I need to do more of and help the girls.”

On Sunday, NU faced off against Iowa outside at the Vandy Christie Tennis Center for Senior Day. Fog loomed overhead, a small breeze blew and rain began to fall as the match neared its end. Weather conditions were not ideal for playing “good tennis” Pollard said. Ideally for outdoor tennis, conditions would be sunny, warm and not too breezy.

“It was nice to play our first, and maybe only, match outdoors,” Niu said. “The conditions were definitely tough for that reason: the fog, the rain, the balls were heavy. It was interesting adapting for everyone.”

In doubles, No. 29 tandem senior Veronica Corning and sophomore Alicia Barnett at court one dominated in their match, beating out the Hawkeyes’ Morven McCulloch and Ruth Seaborne, 8-4.

At court three, Rischbieth and Niu took control early and did not give their opponents Ellen Silver and Annette Dohanics any breathing room, winning 8-1.

In singles, Corning struggled early in her match, losing the first set and falling early five games to two in her second set. She then roared back to tie the second set 6-6 but lost in the seventh.

“I didn’t have the best match, but it’s still great to be here and have fun,” Corning said. “Yesterday we got the job done and we were pretty excited for today to get going and take one match at a time.”

Niu took control early on in her match against Iowa’s Shelby Talcott, winning it 6-2, 6-0. She kept her head level and had a healthy mix of emotions.

“Senior Day is always really emotional,” Niu said. “We tried to balance enjoying the celebration with also focusing on getting the job done. It has been a really enjoyable day.”

Hamilton played at her own pace on her way to victory. While her teammates were eight games in, some in their second set, Hamilton was playing relaxed in her third game, leading the first set 2-1 at that point. She had a way of keeping calm, cool and collected and steadily cruised her way to victory, 6-4, 6-2.

“We have such mixed results on Senior Day, I’m always just grateful to get a win,” Pollard said. “It’s sort of the one day of the year when I can’t get upset at the seniors, so you get one day in four years that you can get away with anything you want.”

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