Women’s Tennis: Wildcats ready for round two with Crimson Tide


Daily file photo by Leeks Lim

Maddie Lipp prepares to strike. The sophomore lost a close match at No. 2 singles to Vanderbilt, but is hoping to get back on track.

Mike Marut, Reporter

Women’s Tennis

Northwestern may have beaten Alabama during the Wildcat Duals in January, but both teams have grown since then, and the Wildcats are preparing accordingly.

“We know how to construct a point,” coach Claire Pollard said. “We’ve gotten better, but they’ve also gotten better. The match will be very different. … For ourselves, we’ll do some drills for a high percentage first serve, and we’ll change the height of the ball to adapt to the outdoors.”

The No. 17 Crimson Tide (2-3) was NU’s first opponent of the season and with Alabama only having three days to practice, Pollard said, the game can basically be forgotten since the Wildcat Duals did not count toward either team’s records.

Since then, both teams have more experience under their belts. The Cats (1-4) overcame Alabama last month but have since struggled to win, only notching one victory with four losses. The Crimson Tide has suffered a similar fate with a record of 2-3 since the Wildcat Duals.

Both teams come into the weekend on long losing streaks: three-straight for Alabama and four for NU. The Crimson Tide was also scheduled to play against Virginia last weekend, but the match was postponed.

Meanwhile, the Cats have played without a break and said they have seen marked improvement since the Wildcat Duals.

“At the beginning, we all knew how to get better, but we didn’t execute it,” freshman Lee Or said. “Now we put an emphasis on being more competitive and more physical on the court. I think we’ve gotten better at the points we set for ourselves.”

Although the team’s growth may not be apparent on paper, many matches thus far in the season have been decided by a few points that ultimately determine the final outcome.

Most recently, NU has been able to compete at a high level despite falling short in dual play. In its match against then-No. 5 Vanderbilt last weekend, the Cats came close to victory, which would have been their first against a higher-ranked opponent.

Now, NU is desperate for a win after almost a month-long drought. Pollard sees Sunday as an opportunity to claim a win against another team that is in the same boat as hers.

“Anytime you can win, that’s better than losing,” Pollard joked. “I don’t think one win is what we need. We’re playing an opponent who hasn’t won as much, so both of us are desperate for a win. We’ll have to go out there and battle and see what happens.”

The Cats’ desperation to forge ahead, and claim another win as they head into Big Ten play after Alabama, will be on their minds all weekend.

“We need a win right now,” sophomore Alex Chatt said. “We’ve been playing so many good teams, and we come close every single time. Obviously, we want to win. We’re expecting a win. We want it, and I think it will be essential to be a turning point of the season.”

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