Women’s Tennis: Wildcats drawing on undefeated Big Ten record for upcoming pair of conference matches


Daily file photo by Leeks Lim

Maddie Lipp lunges for a backhand. The sophomore is 17-10 in her overall in singles matches this year.

Robbie Markus, Reporter

Women’s Tennis

Despite a rollercoaster of inconsistency for Northwestern this season, the Wildcats are hoping to continue their current hot streak into this weekend as they take on Purdue and Indiana at home.

After a dominant 7-0 win against Iowa to close out the weekend, NU is building confidence, but as sophomore Erin Larner pointed out, the team can’t get ahead of itself.

“With Purdue and Indiana, you can’t overlook anyone at this point. There’s upsets going on every weekend”, Larner said. “We clearly want the win this weekend, but we’re still trying to treat every match with the same importance”.

Although Indiana (13-6, 3-2) has the stronger record between the Cats’ weekend opponents, Purdue (9-9, 2-3) demolished the Hoosiers last weekend 6-1.

This season, Purdue has struggled with highly-ranked opponents, going 0-2 in matches against top-25 schools. In their contest last year, Purdue and NU battled down to the wire, with the Cats pulling out No. 3 singles to decide the match.

With wins over DePaul, Tennessee and Michigan State, Indiana projects as the tougher team this weekend for the Cats, but considering the rough loss handed down by Purdue, this may not be the case. Like Purdue, Indiana took NU to the final point last season, forcing the now-graduated Lok Sze Leung to buckle down during No. 3 singles to snatch the 4-3 win.

Both Indiana and Purdue have weaker records than a majority of the non-conference programs the Cats took on earlier in the season. The tougher competition early-on is a major factor behind the difference between NU’s non-conference and conference records. Senior Alicia Barnett said the early woes against top teams are now having a positive effect on the team in terms of preparation.

“We’ve improved a lot since January,” Barnett said. “We’ve made a solid start to the Big Ten because we’ve been playing hard matches back-to-back.”

After resting sophomore Alex Chatt against Nebraska and sophomore Maddie Lipp against Iowa, the Cats are intending to play with a full lineup this weekend. However, NU is also expected to change up its doubles lineup, coach Claire Pollard said. A change in the doubles lineup would certainly be a big strategic shift for the Cats, as Alex Chatt and Maddie Lipp have played 24 matches together this season, and Barnett and Larner have played 16 as a pair.

As NU moves into the heart of conference play, looking to tie up loose ends, Pollard said the team is ramping up the intensity as the postseason loom ahead.

“I’m being incredibly strict at practice, incredibly demanding,” Pollard said. “If I can continue to demand the very best from the girls, and they can respond and handle it, then I think we’ll be well-prepared for the challenge ahead.”

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