Women’s Tennis: Wildcats have flawless final weekend of season


Sean Su/Daily Senior Staffer

Lok Sze Leung plays her final regular season match as a Wildcat. The senior helped lead Northwestern to two 7-0 victories ahead of the Big Ten Tournament.

Alex Lederman, Reporter

Women’s Tennis

No. 27 Northwestern (14-6, 9-2 Big Ten) extended its conference win streak to seven with two shutouts over Iowa (8-13, 2-9) and Nebraska (12-12, 0-11) in the final weekend of the regular season.

“We were all really focused on going out there, trying to play our best tennis and gaining some confidence going into the (Big Ten) Tournament this weekend,” freshman Erin Larner said. “We all have been working really hard and that’s starting to translate onto the court in matches.”

Most notably, senior Lok Sze Leung pulled out a 7-5, 2-6, 1-0 (10-6) nail-biter at No. 3 singles against Nebraska’s Mary Hanna on Senior Day.

Leung initially led 5-2 in the opening set, but Hanna stormed back to force a close battle in the first before taking the second. Leung dug deep to take the third set tiebreaker.

“(Hanna) raised her level in the second set,” Leung said. “At the end, I just thought I really wanted to win on Senior Day.”

Otherwise, it was a dominant weekend. The Wildcats didn’t even drop another set against the Hawkeyes or the Cornhuskers.

NU won the doubles point handily against both opponents.

“Matches are starting a lot better for us,” coach Claire Pollard said. “Instead of a lot of question marks at the start of matches, there’s a lot more answers. When you can get off to a good start, you just have a little bit more control over the outcome, and that’s a nice place to start the match.”

Pollard credited the doubles success to having set partnerships now. The 42nd ranked pair of junior Alicia Barnett and Larner play No. 1 doubles, freshman Rheeya Doshi and sophomore Brooke Rischbieth hold down the No. 2 spot and Leung and freshman Alex Chatt round out the rotation at No. 3.

NU honored Leung between the doubles and singles matches against Nebraska.

“Certainly (Leung) has just done so many great things for our program,” Pollard said. “I was ecstatic for her.”

Even though this weekend was all smooth sailing, Pollard said Senior Day has been a bit awkward in the past when the Cats have lost the doubles point right before the ceremony.

“Senior Day is such an emotional day,” she said. “It has its highs and lows, and sometimes the kids get so wrapped up in it, and it can be tricky for everyone. You’ve got to keep the emotions out of it and then do the celebrating afterwards.”

After Leung’s tribute, the Cats coasted through the afternoon, particularly at second, fourth and sixth singles. Larner finished first at No. 2, steamrolling Izabella Zgierska 6-0, 6-2, and sophomore Jillian Rooney and Chatt locked up wins, each cruising 6-1, 6-1.

The results eerily resembled the previous day against Iowa. This time, Barnett and Larner stood out at 1 and 2 with 6-1, 6-1 beatings.

With the wins, the Cats secured the three seed in the Big Ten Tournament. After a first-round bye, they’ll face No. 6 Illinois in their first round Friday. Since only 10 teams qualify for the conference tournament, Iowa and Nebraska — placing 12th and 13th in the standings respectively — did not make the bracket.

NU hosts the tournament and plans to use its home court advantage to the fullest.

“The Big Ten tournament is certainly something that the program has strived on in all the years that I’ve been here,” Pollard said. “Next week will be no different.”

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