Women’s Tennis: Wildcats gear up for first winter weekend


Daily file photo by Daniel Tian

Alex Chatt (right) shakes her teammate’s hand. With Northwestern fully healthy, the sophomore will be looking to help the Wildcats regain their place at the top of the Big Ten.

Mike Marut, Reporter

Women’s Tennis

Northwestern is looking to bounce back from a disappointing end to last season, in which it failed to capture the conference crown for the first time in 16 years.

Now, as the Wildcats prepare for the regular season with the Wildcat Duals, they will have a full and healthy squad of eight players. Senior Alicia Barnett returned from wrist surgery at the end of November and junior Manon Peri has finally been cleared to play singles. Peri received the official word on Monday that she can return to the singles court after having been cleared to play doubles in November.

“I needed to play a lot of matches and compete,” Peri said. “That was good for getting me ready to compete this weekend and for the rest of the season.”

Peri also said she has set personal goals for the season: to stay healthy and work her way up the lineup.

Over winter break, each player set individual goals and worked on specific parts of her game. Like Peri, Barnett also went home and competed in matches to get her wrist strength back.

“I started playing tennis as soon as I got back [home],” Barnett said. “It’s good to be hitting with the girls again, because I haven’t hit with them for so long. It’s good to see how far they’ve come along and improved.”

Barnett is the team’s lone senior. Last season she started at the No. 1 singles court and was on the No. 1 doubles tandem. With her return, NU will be at full strength at the top of its roster.

The Cats have also set goals for themselves as a team. For the players, regaining a top spot in the Big Ten and even making it to the NCAA Final Four are top priorities, Peri said. Coach Claire Pollard has set an intangible goal that the players can work on individually and as a team: building belief.

“We didn’t (set the traditional goals) this season,” Pollard said. “I think we all know that if we can be healthy, we can be very good. We set the goals of ‘what are the qualities of a championship team and why aren’t we one?’ so we’re focusing more on the process than outcome goals … On a daily basis, we’re building a culture of belief in one another, trusting one another.”

After a season as shocking as last year, laden with injuries and setbacks, some teams may lose a bit of confidence, but Pollard said she expects the exact opposite for NU.

This year, the Cats adopted the theme “Be Healthy” to remind themselves to take care of their bodies in order to go the distance and qualify for NCAA Tournament competition in the spring. But for Pollard, a successful season is not just about what it says on the scoreboard.

“Success is a really arbitrary term,” she said. “I don’t know that it’s just necessarily winning and a scoreboard. You can beat teams and be winning, but not actually be that successful.”

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