Women’s Tennis: Northwestern struggles in trio of Texas matches


Daily file photo by Leeks Lim

Jillian Rooney lunges for the ball. The junior fought hard over spring break, but ultimately fell to her Longhorn opponent in the only match she completed in Texas.

Robbie Markus, Reporter

Women’s Tennis

At the end of their Spring Break road trip, the Wildcats once again found themselves in a slump.

Although Northwestern (5-8, 3-0 Big Ten) came into spring break with a four-game winning streak, it dropped all three of its matches to Texas opponents last week as the theme of weak non-conference play continued to plague the Cats against Baylor, Texas Tech and Texas.

NU started the trip in Waco, Texas, falling to Baylor (7-11, 1-1 Big 12) 4-2 on March 23. The Cats fought hard the entire match, but Baylor’s No. 2 singles player, Rhiann Newborn, won a second set tiebreaker to seal the win for the Bears.

At first, Baylor came out strong with two dominant doubles wins, winning No. 1 doubles 6-0 and No. 3 doubles 6-3. But NU slowed down the Bears’ momentum when singles play started, as senior Alicia Barnett won at No. 3 singles in straight sets to even the match. After another Baylor win at No. 1 singles, sophomore Alex Chatt tied the score at 2-2, taking out sophomore Kelley Anderson in straight sets.

This put all the pressure on the remaining three singles courts and the Cats couldn’t come through. Junior Brooke Rischbieth went down at No. 6 singles 6-4, 6-4, and sophomore Maddie Lipp dropped No. 2 singles 6-4, 7-6 [7-3] in a well-fought match to give the Baylor its seventh win of the season.

After the Baylor match, NU looked to rebound in a tough contest against No. 13 Texas Tech (15-2, 0-1 Big 12) last Friday. Similar to their play earlier in the season, the Cats had a hard time competing against the top-notch Red Raiders, falling 4-0 in a rough match.

Like Baylor, Texas Tech jumped in early to take the doubles point, grabbing wins at No. 1 and No. 3 doubles. Both Barnett and sophomore Erin Larner at No. 1 doubles and Chatt and Lipp at No. 2 doubles put up strong fights, but the former pair fell 7-5 to give Texas Tech the first point of the day.

Texas Tech picked up the pace further moving into singles, as they swept the top three singles courts to quickly take the match 4-0. Barnett was edged out 6-3, 6-2 at No. 3 singles, Lipp was ousted 6-1, 6-1 at No. 2 singles, and Larner was defeated 6-4, 6-3 at No. 1 singles.

The match was called after Texas Tech won its fourth point, leaving singles courts 4, 5, and 6 unfinished.

At the end of the road trip, the Cats looked to end strong in Austin, Texas, taking on the Texas Longhorns (9-5, 1-1 Big 12) on Monday. In their final non-conference match of the season, the Cats fell 5-2, giving them a 2-8 non-conference record this season.

Larner and Barnett stormed out of the gate at No. 2 doubles to take the first match of the day 6-2, but both No. 1 and No. 3 doubles dropped their matches 6-3 to once again give the opposing team the doubles point.

The Cats couldn’t find their stroke in singles, as Texas won the first three singles courts to decide the match. However, the scores were much tighter, as both Larner and junior Jillian Rooney lost their singles matches in 3 sets, and Barnett lost her match in a tough second set tiebreaker, going down 6-3, 7-6 (7-5).

Despite the rough road trip, NU remains undefeated in Big Ten play, and now that non-conference play is over the team can focus on its conference opponents. The Cats will look to turn it around Saturday when they take on Nebraska at home.

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