Women’s Tennis: Wildcats prepare with confidence for ITA Indoor Qualifiers


Daily file photo by Sophie Mann

Alex Chatt prepares to serve. Before winter break, the sophomore led the Wildcats in singles winning percentage at .889.

Mike Marut, Reporter

Women’s Tennis

When the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Championship qualifying rounds come around each year, Northwestern hungers for success.

Under coach Claire Pollard, the Wildcats have notched a 7-1 record in the qualifying rounds since the 2011-2012 season when the ITA first implemented the rounds. Since Pollard became head coach in 1998, NU has won the National ITA Championships twice and has accumulated a record of 29-13, not including the qualifying rounds, since the 2001-2002 season. Records could not be found for the 1998-1999 through the 2000-2001 seasons.

“It’s an important weekend,” Pollard said. “If you lose, you’re done. Obviously, National Indoors has been something we’ve been very successful in in the past if you look at the history of the program. We’ve picked up some of our most significant wins at that tournament.”

Only once, during the 2010-2011 season, have the Cats come out of the ITA Championships with a losing record. Last year was the first time in Pollard’s career as the NU coach that the team did not qualify for the National Indoor Championships.

This season has already gotten off to a strong start with the Wildcat Duals held last weekend. After sweeping the weekend, the Cats are looking to carry that confidence into the qualifiers, with some of the players nearly guaranteeing victory.

“We’re going to qualify for indoors, that’s what we’re going to do,” freshman Lee Or said. “We’ll win. That’s that.”

This past weekend was the first team competition for Or. Compared to the fall matchups which are more individualized, Or said she finds the winter and spring competitions more fun and exciting.

“The team atmosphere and getting so pumped (is better),” Or said. “It’s not really for myself, so it is different. I’m really excited. It’s still an individual sport, but finding that balance between doing everything for the team and then stepping back and taking a breath for yourself (is important).”

Tennis may be an individual sport at times, but NU knows the team needs to succeed as a whole to compete at a top-25 level, which the Cats did not break to start the season. NU finished the previous weekend toppling No. 15 Alabama and No. 22 Texas Christian University.

Also contributing to the sweep was sophomore Maddie Lipp. Lipp claimed the Big Ten Women’s Tennis Player of the Week with her undefeated performance and said she wants to ride that wave into the qualifying rounds for the Indoor Championships. Lipp is not guaranteeing wins like Or, but she said she still wants to taste sweet victory.

“We’re going in with the goal of winning both matches, but we’re not overlooking our first match,” Lipp said. “We take one match at a time. We’re excited to start our season off right, so hopefully we get the job done and qualify for indoors.”

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