Women’s Tennis: Wildcats win one, lose one against Michigan opponents


Daily file photo by Sean Su

Manon Peri returns a shot. The sophomore assisted the team in splitting a pair of weekend matches.

Alex Lederman, Reporter

Women’s Tennis

Northwestern crossed Lake Michigan this weekend to take on the Wolverines and Spartans, splitting a pair of results.

First, the No. 27 Wildcats (8-5, 3-2 Big Ten) fell 6-1 on Saturday to No. 12 Michigan (15-3, 6-0), the team NU beat in the Big Ten Championship last year.

The Cats’ only point came in surprising fashion — from the doubles point. All season, NU has struggled to gain an early lead with doubles. But this weekend, its top two pairs — junior Alicia Barnett with freshman Erin Larner and freshman Rheeya Doshi with sophomore Brooke Rischbieth — each beat ranked foes.

“Michigan relies heavily on their doubles point, and I was hoping that was going to unnerve them a little bit because they play excellent doubles,” coach Claire Pollard said. “But in all credit to them, we took it to them in doubles and then they took it right back to us in singles.”

Pollard said the team has finally stabilized its doubles lineup after playing with different combinations all winter, which she hopes will lead to more consistent results. The third doubles team is freshman Alex Chatt and senior Lok Sze Leung.

Still, the Wolverines won all six singles matchups. Barnett took the first set 6-3 against No. 23 Emina Bektas at No. 1 singles, but dropped the next two 6-3, 6-0. No other NU player won a set.

“We played our best doubles point in the whole season against Michigan,” Leung said. “But in singles, we definitely all have something to work on.”

Leung said she specifically needs to work on her forehand. She called it her weapon, but said she hasn’t been using it as much as she can.

The Cats bounced back Sunday against No. 37 Michigan State (16-3, 5-1), delivering the Spartans’ first conference defeat with a 5-2 victory. Again NU won the doubles point — although Pollard said NU’s teams didn’t play as well as on Saturday — but this time the Cats breezed through singles. Barnett and sophomore Jillian Rooney were the only players to lose, with Rooney falling 7-6 (5) in the third set.

All three freshmen — Larner, Chatt and Doshi — won their matches. Larner bounced back from one set down to come away with the victory.

“The poor sophomore class is depleted at the moment,” Pollard said. “They’re all suffering from some sort of injury. The freshmen have really done a nice job stepping up and are getting some great experience.”

NU is looking to leave its winter struggles in the past, just like the cold weather. The Cats already have almost as many losses as they did all of last season — only two fewer — and an extra conference loss. With injuries, instability in lineups, its top two players from last season graduating and Pollard taking a leave of absence for four matches, NU did not have the winter it desired. But that doesn’t discourage the Cats.

“We haven’t really been thinking about the first half,” Leung said. “We’ve been talking about having a new season, so right now we’re 2-1 and are trying to forget about the winter.”

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