Women’s Tennis: Leung looks to guide Wildcats to senior day victory


Daily file photo by Sean Su

Senior Lok Sze Leung returns a shot. Leung and the Cats finish the regular season this weekend, which includes a Senior Day matchup against Nebraska.

Alex Lederman, Reporter

Women’s Tennis

Lok Sze Leung had a unique journey to Northwestern. Now, the Wildcats honor the lone senior this weekend in their final matches of the regular season.

No. 27 NU (12-6, 7-2 Big Ten) welcomes Iowa (8-11, 2-7) and Nebraska (12-0, 0-9) to Evanston on Saturday and Sunday — the latter marking Senior Day — looking to add two more wins to its record before the Big Ten Tournament.

“It’s a bittersweet day,” coach Claire Pollard said. “I’m certainly so grateful that we had Lok Sze, but at the same time I’m disappointed that it was only for two years.”

Leung transferred to NU last season after starting her college career at Middlebury College.

The senior hails from Hong Kong but knew for a long time she wanted to play in the United States.

“Since I was 14 or 15,” she said, “I wanted to play college tennis. I knew I wasn’t good enough to turn pro, so college tennis was one of the best ways for me to continue to play and get a good education.”

She achieved that dream at Middlebury and exceeded even her own expectations.  In 2013, she won the NCAA Division III Women’s Tennis Honda Award and claimed the Division III Singles National Championship.

Leung started to think she could transfer to a Division I school but didn’t want to sacrifice quality academics. She emailed several coaches — fewer than five — and found the perfect fit in Northwestern.

But Leung said she’s not being retrospective with Senior Day approaching.

“I’m more excited about the Big Ten Tournament next week than anything else,” she said. “I’m not really thinking of my career coming to an end, but more of what’s left and what our main goal is from here on out.”

With only two combined wins in conference, Iowa and Nebraska are teams the Cats should beat.

Still, Pollard said she’s not overlooking the opponents who are still playing for pride.

“As a team,” junior Alicia Barnett said, “(Pollard) has really emphasized being tough competitors and trying to outcompete every team.”

The Cats enter the weekend hot. They’ve won eight of their past 10 overall matches and five straight in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes, meanwhile, have lost four in a row and six of the past seven, and the Cornhuskers have dropped five straight and nine of the last 10. They rank 12th and 13th in the conference respectively.

As the Big Ten Tournament nears, the Cats are sending mixed signals. While Leung said she’s thinking mostly about the tournament, freshman Alex Chatt said the team isn’t concerned with the bracket yet.

“We’re not putting pressure on ourselves,” Chatt said. “Although we’ve won 16 titles in a row, we can’t have that mindset because there are just too many good teams this year and only 10 teams get into the tournament. We’re just trying to change our mindset and go one match at a time, not think about the tournament as a whole.”

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