Women’s Tennis: Fall season a welcome sign for Wildcats


Daily file photo by Nathan Richards

Junior Alicia Barnett winds up for a volley. A First-Team All-Big Ten selection last season, Barnett is a key part of a Wildcats squad that looks primed to take home a 17th consecutive Big Ten title.

Mike Marut, Reporter

Women’s Tennis

Northwestern’s women’s tennis team shone brightly throughout the fall, taking control of the courts and competing highly in every tournament they entered.

To start the season, the Wildcats hosted the Wildcat Invitational that featured competitors from across the country vying for the tournament title. Five NU players contended, but freshman Erin Larner advanced all the way to the finals in her bracket of 32 before falling in the championship match to DePaul’s Rebeca Mitrea. Larner beat all opponents in two sets before losing in three to the Mitrea.

Simultaneously, junior Alicia Barnett, sophomore Manon Peri and senior Lok Sze Leung fought in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-American Championships held in Pacific Palisades, California. All three lost in the first round of singles, but Peri and Leung won their doubles semifinal match before coming up short in the finals.

Through those tournaments and into the final stretch of the fall season, the Cats continued going deep into bracket competitions. The fall season helps incoming freshmen garner experience and adapt to the pace of matches at the collegiate level, and the freshmen adjusted quickly as they took the spotlight in the rest of the tournaments. Freshmen Alex Chatt and Rheeya Doshi took the doubles title at the University of Alabama’s 27th-annual Roberta Alison Fall Classic. Doubles is especially important for a team that tends to struggle after losing the initial doubles point. For the freshmen to attain this honor in doubles could be key for NU in the spring.

Throughout the fall, NU won matches handily against both ranked and unranked opponents. Beating opponents at every level shows that despite losing last year’s senior starters Nida Hamilton (No. 6 singles, No. 2 doubles), Veronica Corning (No. 1 singles and doubles) and Belinda Niu (No. 2 singles, No. 3 doubles), the Cats have come to play. Without those players, NU must find a way to beat teams like Michigan — the Cats’ biggest Big Ten competitor in recent years — when conference play comes around. Last year Niu clinched the Big Ten Tournament title late in the final singles match. Coach Claire Pollard will need to find another player with the same clutch factor Niu had.

To close out the fall season, NU hosted its annual Wildcat Fall Duals. Day one proved to be another undefeated event for the Cats with Barnett, Peri, Chatt and sophomore Jillian Rooney all winning in singles as well as Leung and Larner playing together for a doubles win. Day Two, the team won nine of its 12 matches in singles and five of seven in doubles. NU struggled to find more singles wins than losses against DePaul on the final day of competition. In doubles matchups, the Cats did not fare much better, only winning two of five matches. Chatt paired with DePaul’s Ana Vladutu for the third win.

Despite the final day struggles, the overall fall season proved to be productive for NU with many going far in big tournaments, the freshmen acclimating to the collegiate climate and the team thriving without last year’s departed seniors. The coming spring season will be just as competitive for Pollard and NU as any year previous.

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