Women’s Tennis: Wildcats overcome tough loss, finish weekend strong


Sean Su/Daily Senior Staffer

Alicia Barnett struggled in her new role as the team’s No. 1 singles, losing both of her singles matches over the weekend. The Wildcats are working with a far different lineup from last season, but the team performed admirably in its opening counted dual matches.

Mike Marut, Reporter

Women’s Tennis

Northwestern struggled against No. 32 Arizona State on Saturday, but the loss fueled the victory over No. 21 Rice.

The No. 17 Wildcats were tied with the Sun Devils three points each with one singles match left. After losing the doubles point, singles victories came from freshmen Erin Larner and Alex Chatt and sophomore Jillian Rooney. With losses from sophomore Manon Peri and senior Lok Sze Leung, the pressure came down on junior Alicia Barnett’s shoulders.

To start her match, Barnett lost four straight games in the first set. But after a racket change, Barnett rebounded to win the next six games and the first set. Following the first set, Arizona State’s Desirae Krawczyk — ranked 37th in the country in singles — took the second set by the same score. In the third set, Barnett could not find a way around Krawczyk, losing 6-3. NU fell overall 4-3.

“(At number one singles) you really can’t take a point off,” Barnett said. “Every point you need to be focused. My serve kind of let me down (Saturday). You need your serves and be able to sit on every point.”

Barnett has to find her groove in the No. 1 singles position. When she was a freshman for the Cats, she played at the No. 5 spot, as a sophomore at No. 3, and now as a junior at No. 1. As a player moves up the courts, the balls get faster, the shots are better placed and the intensity overall gets higher. For NU to succeed this season, Barnett will have to battle through growing pains of being the new No. 1.

“(Barnett) was capable of being a great No. 1,” coach Claire Pollard said. “It’s a huge adjustment for her, so I was very positive about that.”

The Cats were able to use the loss against the Sun Devils to dominate against the Owls, winning on Sunday, 6-1. NU claimed the doubles point and made quick work of Rice in singles, with Larner, Rooney and Leung winning their matches in straight sets.

Pollard had Larner, originally No. 4 in singles, and Leung, originally No. 3, exchange positions for Sunday’s matches. Both had dominating wins with Larner winning 6-0, 6-1 and Leung winning 6-1, 6-1.

“Our game styles matched up well, a little bit in my favor,” Larner said. “I was able to take control of the points early and really focus on my game. It was definitely a confidence booster getting out here and have my first couple matches go my way, just trying to keep my momentum going.”

Leung had everything working for her on Sunday. The senior was able put the ball where she wanted and was able to move quicker than her opponent.

“It’s always good to win the fourth point for the team,” Leung said. “My opponent had a similar style to mine, maybe I hit a little bit heavier. I feel like I did everything slightly better: my serve was better, I moved better. I think that made the difference.”

NU needed a win to boost its confidence starting the season and beating Rice is exactly what the doctor ordered. With such a young team, the Cats have to adjust quickly.

“The thing I keep stressing to everyone, and what’s so important, is the only person that is really playing a similar role to what they did last year is (Rooney),” Pollard said. “In every other aspect of our program, somebody is playing an incredibly different role. … Considering we have so many moving parts, I think we’re really in good shape, considering where we could be.”

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