Women’s Tennis: Northwestern gears up for mid-season finale


Daily file photo by Sean Su

Alicia Barnett follows through on a serve. The junior is the team’s No. 1 in singles, and has won three of her last four matches from the spot.

Mike Marut, Reporter

Women’s Tennis

The Wildcats look to continue their winning streak against conference competition this weekend, this time trying their hands on the road.

After coming off a 1-1 weekend against non-conference foes Baylor and Texas, No. 28 Northwestern (4-3, 1-0 Big Ten) turns its attention back to the Big Ten as the team faces opponents No. 22 Ohio State (6-4, 0-0) and No. 42 Indiana (9-2, 0-0) on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

The Cats have been on a roll since their rough beginning at 1-2, winning three of their last four matches — two of them against Big Ten opponents Penn State and Purdue.

Ohio State is traditionally a tough opponent for NU. Despite the high-scoring wins of the Cats, the Buckeyes keep things competitive.

“They’re known as great competitors and it’s always a tough place to play,” assistant coach Rob Gurden said. “We’re not trying to put too much emphasis on this match as long as we do the things we know how to do — compete hard, fight for every ball, have a good attitude — we’ll be in a good place at the end of the weekend.”

With head coach Claire Pollard taking her second leave of absence of the season, Gurden will be leading the charge again. Last time Gurden took the reins, NU came out with its wins over the Nittany Lions and Boilermakers. In a similar situation, this weekend Ohio State counts toward the conference record while Indiana does not.

After turning around a tough loss against Baylor into a dominant win over Texas, the Cats know they have to bring their A-game against the Buckeyes and Hoosiers. Something in particular NU needs to improve coming into the weekend is the doubles point. The Cats have lost the doubles point three times, and they fell in all of these matches.

“We’ve been working a lot more on doubles, especially this week,” senior Lok Sze Leung said. “Doubles has always been something we want to work harder in. With (freshman Rheeya Doshi) coming back, it’s all going to pay off.”

Other than working on doubles, NU developed and prepared their individual games after the weekend. On the individual level, the Cats still have room to grow because of the youth of the team. The young squad is still searching for a way to execute at the highest level.

“After the Baylor match, we just focused on ourselves,” junior Alicia Barnett said. “We conditioned a lot. It was very personally oriented. We have to get better individually. If we can get better individually then we can get better as a team.”

After this mid-season finale against Ohio State and Indiana, NU will have an idea of where it stands as one. As the quarter winds down, the Cats are in full swing and will have to use their spring break to prepare for the gauntlet that is the rest of the Big Ten, starting with Illinois on March 20.

“We’re very hungry because we want to get back on track to where we want to be,” Gurden said. “This will be a pretty good test, going on the road, playing pretty tough Big Ten teams. They’re hungry, we’re hungry. We have a young team, and the players have been stepping up and doing a great job. We’re really excited to see what we can do this weekend, and we’re looking to bring out the best in ourselves.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @mikeonthemic93