Women’s Tennis: Wildcats see progress, growing pains in loss to Blue Devils

Mike Marut, Reporter

Women’s Tennis

The No. 22 Wildcats (1-2) entered No. 4 Duke’s home turf on Sunday and couldn’t slay the Blue Devils, falling 5-2 in the process.

Duke (3-0) entered the match taking advantage of a softer schedule while the Cats commenced the contest at 1-1 having ​played teams that were in the top 32. After clinching the doubles point, Duke took control of singles early — reaching a 3-1 lead.

“The Blue Devils are a very human team,” junior Alicia Barnett said. “They have a good history and they are top four, but we can beat any team. I know we can.”

Despite the insurmountable lead, NU still found some bright spots and takeaways from the match. The Cats had their work cut out for them, but being the first team to actually notch a point against the Blue Devils this season was an important step for NU in its rebuilding process.

“Our bottom of the lineup is very positive,” coach Claire Pollard said. “Alicia Barnett played a much better match today even if the score doesn’t look like it. She made some breakthroughs, but we just have to keep plugging away.”

With the growing pains of a rebuilding team, two more bright spots came during singles. Two of the singles contests went three sets and the Cats still came away with two victories — one in three sets, another in straight sets. Those wins came from senior Lok Sze Leung and freshman Alex Chatt. Leung started the season at No. 3 singles but moved to No. 4 since last Saturday’s match​.​ Chatt is new to the team. The more wins individual NU players get, it seems, the more comfortable they become at their positions.

“Getting a win against a team that has such history was such a confidence boost,” Chatt said. “I went into the match knowing that if I got a win, that could be a turning point in my season.”

Chatt finished her singles match in two sets, winning 6-2, 6-3. Leung strung out her match, winning in three sets: 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. After the change to No. 4 singles, Leung has yet to lose.

“Our team thrives on watching each other,” Chatt said. “Watching the rest of our teammates compete as hard as we did, even just pulling out two wins, did help ​(us).”

Although there were some bright spots to the day, in the end NU still took a loss to a top five opponent. This is the first time the Cats have had a losing record since March 2012. Now in 2015, it’s a totally new team — Leung transferred after her sophomore year at Middlebury College — in more ways than one. Yes, there are no players from that 2012 squad still here, but everybody has a new role from last year.

After the start to this season, Pollard has a few takeaways.

“We have to get better at the top of the lineup,” she said. “The bottom of the lineup is doing their part. We have to find a better doubles point. In my opinion we didn’t compete as well as we could have. We need to work on that this week.”

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