Women’s Tennis: Wildcats de-clawed by UCLA, losing streak at 3

Alicia+Barnett+kneels+in+between+points.+The+senior+dropped+both+her+matches+to+UCLA+on+Sunday.+

Daily file photo by Sophie Mann

Alicia Barnett kneels in between points. The senior dropped both her matches to UCLA on Sunday.

Mike Marut, Daily Senior Staffer


Women’s Tennis


Northwestern took on its fourth consecutive ranked opponent Sunday and suffered its third loss of the year to UCLA.

The Wildcats could not take care of business against the No. 21 Bruins, losing 6-1. NU was hard-pressed to win games in the doubles match, losing 6-4, 6-3 on courts 1 and 2, but winning the third court only after the doubles point had been decided. The Cats have won the doubles point in two of four matches this season.

The singles courts did not fare much better with the Bruins winning on court Nos. 1 through 5 and clinching the victory early on. At No. 3 singles, sophomore Erin Larner tried to hold out for a win in the first set, forcing a 13th game, but lost in the tiebreak and eventually in straight sets. Three of the six matches went to a tiebreak game, but the Cats lost all three.

“They (UCLA) were just good,” coach Claire Pollard said. “I was impressed by them. It was a calculated risk because we didn’t think we had anything to lose. I thought there was maybe a chance (to win) because … they were down … but beating a Pac-12 team on the road is a tall order. The more chances we give ourselves, the better we’re going to be.”

With so many singles matches going deep into sets, the outcome could have changed in NU’s favor had they won a few more points here and there. The Cats lost each singles match in straight sets, with the exception of junior Brooke Rischbieth who forced a third set and came away with the team’s only match point.

The beginning of the season has been tough on NU, with this being the worst four-contest start since the 2001-02 season. That has not deterred the Cats though, who have used the stretch as a learning opportunity.

“We’ve learned a lot,” junior Jillian Rooney said. “It’s good to play another top team and learning what it takes to be at the top level, like how well we need to perform in order to beat a team like that.”

These first four games are also the toughest season opening schedule in recent history with all opponents ranked at or below No. 27. Pollard has brought NU a fierce challenge to open the 2015-16 season that has forced the team to grow together quickly.

“We’ve been so close [to winning],” senior Alicia Barnett said. “It’s a shame we’ve lost the last three matches, but they’ve been good for our team. We started our schedule so tough. We’ve played top teams. We could’ve just gone and played top-50 teams, but we’ve had a really tough schedule.

The Cats have not taken these losses lightly though, and many of the matches have been closer than the scoreboard has indicated.

“There’s a psychological barrier we need to break,” Pollard said. “We’re a little guilty … if we lose the doubles point, I think it alters our confidence going into singles.”

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