Women’s Tennis: Without ITA Indoor Championship travel, Wildcats gear up for UCLA


Daily file photo by Sophie Mann

Alicia Barnett pumps her fist. The senior won both of her matches last weekend against Duke and is looking to carry over her success this Sunday.

Mike Marut, Reporter

Women’s Tennis

After not advancing past the qualifying round of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Indoor Championship, Northwestern will fly out to California to face UCLA instead of taking the weekend off to practice.

Two weeks ago, the No. 26 Wildcats split the qualifying matches and as a result, did not reach the ITA Indoor Championships this weekend. Neither could the then-No. 9 Bruins, who fell to then-No. 54 Fresno State.

“They lost to a lowly ranked team, so I expect them to be hungry and use this as a great opportunity to get themselves back on track,” head coach Claire Pollard said. “I didn’t want to play a team I thought we could beat, I wanted to play someone who’s probably an even match. If we play well, we could win; if we don’t, we could lose.”

Historically speaking, NU has not fared so well against UCLA, accumulating a record of 3-6. One such painful loss came last year when the Bruins struck down the Cats in the NCAA Tournament, 4-0.

In fact, NU’s previous three matches against UCLA have been shutouts. Its most recent win over the Bruins was in the 2006-2007 season when the Cats won 5-2 at home.

All three of those previous shutout losses came after big wins for NU. After falling to No. 14 Duke over the weekend, the Cats are looking for the tide to turn in their favor. Pollard and the players said they were hopeful, and pleased with the competitiveness they showed against the Blue Devils.

“We’re going in there hoping to get a W,” sophomore Alex Chatt said. “All the hard work has been paying off, especially after this past weekend. It kind of proves we can compete with the best.”

NU has a secret weapon for this Sunday, though: assistant coach Laura Gordon. The match against UCLA is essentially a homecoming for Gordon, who both played and coached for the Bruins. This is Gordon’s first year with the Cats.

“It’ll be nice to go back where I played and where I coached and hopefully get a W,” Gordon said. “It helps to know the courts, and it helps to know every team does their dual match differently. I can go in with some comfort and help the girls with that.”

Gordon’s knowledge of her alma mater, combined with a renewed sense of vigor and competitive fire, affords the Cats another chance to prove they are the real deal. Pollard said she motivated them a bit after Sunday’s match when she told the team that showing competitive spirit once is easy, but NU will have to repeat it.

“Everyone is looking to replicate the competitive aspect that we had on Sunday against Duke,” senior Alicia Barnett said. “(Everyone will) try their hardest to leave everything on the court, and we want to be one of those teams that no one ever wants to play again.”

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