Women’s Tennis: Northwestern goes down in heartbreaker to defending national champion Vanderbilt


Daily file photo by Leeks Lim

Erin Larner runs to the ball. The sophomore won both of her matches against Vanderbilt, but the team was unable to come away with the win.

Robbie Markus, Reporter

Women’s Tennis

The outcome of Sunday’s match came down to the final moments, but Northwestern wasn’t able to pull off an extraordinary upset.

The Wildcats (1-4) suffered an agonizing loss Sunday after coming one point away from knocking off No. 5 Vanderbilt, the defending national champions, in a tension-filled match.

NU came out strong with two dominant doubles wins and two singles wins. But Vanderbilt stormed back, and the match came down to the last court. Junior Jillian Rooney fought hard through the third set, but ultimately fell 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 to give the Commodores the 4-3 win.

“We’re continuing to knock on the door,” coach Claire Pollard said. “The girls are fighting and competing hard and just came up a little bit short.”

The Cats stormed out of the gate with two commanding doubles wins from the duo of senior Alicia Barnett and sophomore Erin Larner and the pair of sophomores Alex Chatt and Maddie Lipp. Barnett and Larner made a statement that NU was geared up to play, as they took the first match of the day 6-0. Chatt and Lipp quickly followed with a huge 6-2 win at No. 2 doubles.

After the Cats grabbed the doubles point, the crowd at the Combe Tennis Center was the loudest it has been all season.

“We’ve been focusing on playing smart doubles all week,” Larner said. “They were national champions last year, so it shows we can compete at a top level.”

Following the doubles performance, the Cats tried to carry the momentum onto the singles court. Chatt came off of her doubles win red hot to prevail at No. 4 singles, taking out her opponent 6-2, 6-0 to give NU a 2-0 lead.

But Barnett, Lipp and junior Brooke Rischbieth all went down in straight sets on the singles courts despite strong fights, letting Vanderbilt take a 3-2 lead. Erin Larner pulled out her match in straight sets to make the score 3-3, putting all the pressure on Rooney at No. 5.

Rooney started very slowly, going down in the first set 6-2, but she became more consistent, wearing down her opponent to take the second set 6-3. In the third set, with all the players watching on the adjacent court and fans cheering on every point, neither player was able to get in a groove. Rooney fought hard, but found herself down 4-3 locked in a deuce in the eighth game of the final set. She missed a ball to fall behind 5-3 and didn’t win a point for the rest of the match.

Barnett expressed the team’s overall frustration with the final outcome of the match, talking about how the team played a fantastic match yet still came up short.

“It was tough, but everyone put everything they could into the matches,” Barnett said. “We’re all very upset about the results, but that’s tennis for you.”

Email: [email protected]