Women’s Tennis: Business as usual as Wildcats continue Big Ten play


Daily file photo by Leeks Lim

Erin Larner smashes a forehand shot. The sophomore won her No. 1 singles match sunday against Georgia Tech, helping the Cats claim their first winning streak of the 2016 season.

Mike Marut, Reporter

Women’s Tennis

After a couple of close victories last weekend, Northwestern came back this week with a fresh, but unchanged, mindset.

The Wildcats (3-5, 1-0 Big Ten) came away with victories over both Illinois and Georgia Tech,  their first since the beginning of the season — Jan. 23 over Arizona State. After being “desperate” for wins, some teams may see the past weekend as a weight off their shoulders, but not for NU. Instead, it’s business as usual.

“(Coach Claire Pollard) spoke to us about focusing on what we do well and not being so hard on ourselves,” senior Alicia Barnett said. “We are a very perfectionist team. … It was good we had a really tough fight on both days because it keeps us on our toes and made us work for (the wins).”

But with the wins, the Cats can exhale.

“(We are) finding everything we’ve worked hard for is shining through in matches,” Barnett said.

The Cats won at a crucial time as the match against the Fighting Illini was the first of conference play. After a tough postseason in the Big Ten last year, NU is looking to reclaim its success in the conference. With a win over a decent Illinois team (4-4 before Friday’s match), next on the list are Maryland (3-6, 1-0) and Rutgers (4-3, 0-1).

Last season, the Cats trounced the two Big Ten newcomers in their conference debuts, 5-2, 6-1 respectively. Because of low turnover from 2014-15, NU has replaced only one player and thus has plenty of veteran experience returning to give both the Terrapins and Scarlet Knights another run for their money.

“There are a lot of strong teams in the Big Ten,” sophomore Erin Larner said. “Every team that we play is an opportunity. I think they see the same with us, so we’re going to have to go out and give it our all.”

This season, Maryland struggled out of the gate but swept Rutgers over the weekend. After a sound victory over the Scarlet Knights, the Terrapins will be looking to keep their conference confidence high with a win over the Cats.

For Rutgers, despite a good opening to the season, its three match win streak was stunted last weekend, so they will be hungry for another win — especially when trying to establish their spot in a strong tennis conference.

But the biggest key for NU is to keep confidence high going into the weekend. For Pollard, no one match is more important than another — that includes Big Ten matches compared to non-conference matches.

“Every match has a role in your season,” Pollard said. “It’s all sort of a big process that we go through with the whole season. I’m not sure we put any more emphasis or any more importance on conference versus non-conference competition.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @mikeonthemic93