Women’s Tennis: Pollard unsatisfied with tourney weekend, hopeful for season


Daily file photo by Sean Su

Erin Larner leaps as she serves the ball. The sophomore, who is trying to work her way back from injury, was doubles partners with freshman Lee Or over the weekend.

Mike Marut, Reporter

Women’s Tennis

Northwestern traveled to Tuscaloosa, Alabama this weekend for the Roberta Alison Fall Classic — a chance for four Wildcats to get more action and repetitions, if not rack up a couple of wins.

Junior Jillian Rooney dominated the courts on Friday, winning both of her matches to carry her to the finals on Saturday. Rooney fought her way through her first match in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3. Her second match of the day proved more challenging and went three sets. After losing the first one 4-6, she came back with a vengeance, defeating her opponent 6-1, 6-0.

“We’ve been talking about being a really competitive team,” Rooney said. “We’ve been focusing on that — play every point. I went into my matches really aggressive and had that mindset. It ended up working well for me.”

Although Rooney found some sweet success, the weekend proved to have a few more tricks than treats for the other three players.

Coach Claire Pollard said the team as a whole did not get to play enough tennis over the weekend, but fewer matches didn’t stop her from seeing a silver lining for some of her athletes.

“It’s really great for Brooke (Rischbieth) to get out there and get some matches because that’s what she’s needed,” Pollard said. “She’s getting herself back and getting better with each match that she plays — that’s critical. Rooney has just been such a great leader for our team. I was really pleased for her to get some individual success.”

For Rischbieth, this weekend could mean a lot toward her development and improvement. Pollard said the junior simply needs more matches and experience. This weekend provided that.

Rischbieth lost her first match on Friday but won out the rest of the consolation bracket, as well as made it to the final consolation match of the doubles bracket with Rooney.

Pollard also brought freshman Lee Or and sophomore Erin Larner to the tournament.

Pollard said Or is still adjusting to the pace of the game and honing her skills, but she improves with each match.

“There’s been enormous improvement within the last two weeks for Lee,” Pollard said. “Her game was like a tornado when she arrived. Now it’s gotten down to a careful wind. Everything is calming down and slowing down. My hope is that she’s playing as a gentle breeze as soon as possible because she needs to play a little bit more relaxed.”

Pollard tested a few matchups on the doubles court this weekend as well, pairing Or and Larner together to try their chemistry. Despite the initial doubles victory for the duo on Friday (winning 8-4), Larner and Or were shut out on Saturday 6-0 in their first match. They fell in their second match of the day later on, 7-5. Overall, Pollard said she was not pleased with the doubles pairings she put together for the weekend.

Since the fall season began, Larner has played sparingly. Pollard has had to walk a fine line between playing her too much and not playing her at all as she returns from a foot injury suffered earlier this year.

With the tournament yielding a mixture of both good and bad results, some may think NU looks shaky. Pollard said the exact opposite.

“I would challenge anyone to have a better group of players on their team than I have this year,” Pollard said.

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