Women’s Tennis: Pair of weekend victories pushes Wildcats’ win streak to four


Lauren Duquette/Daily Senior Staffer

Brooke Rischbieth returns the ball. The junior clinched Sunday’s match against Indiana for the Wildcats at No. 5 singles.

Robbie Markus, Reporter

Women’s Tennis

Northwestern has a long history of dominance in the Big Ten, putting a great deal of pressure on the team every year to perform at a high level. This year, the team is living up to expectations.

The Wildcats (9-8, 7-0) continued that history of Big Ten success at Combe Tennis Center this weekend, where they dominated Purdue (9-11, 2-5) and Indiana (13-8, 3-4) in a pair of weekend matches. The Cats were overwhelming, only losing one point combined in the two matches.

Despite the team’s 2-8 record in non-conference play, the team remains spotless in Big Ten play, keeping them in a deadlocked tie for first place in the Big Ten with Ohio State and Michigan.

The Buckeyes and Wolverines also notched a pair of Big Ten wins this weekend, building the tension for NU’s match in Columbus, Ohio next Sunday against Ohio State. Coach Claire Pollard said the early non-conference woes are now having a positive effect on the team’s play in close sets.

“The benefits of having played such a tough schedule have paid off in that kind of situation now,” Pollard said. “It hurt us for a while, but now we’re pulling out some of those close sets that maybe before we weren’t.”

The team started Friday against Purdue. Coming off the momentum of a shutout last Sunday against Iowa, the Cats recorded their second straight shutout.

Friday started off tense, as No. 3 doubles team junior Jillian Rooney and sophomore Erin Larner fought the deciding match for the doubles point. Rooney and Larner battled to win a tiebreaker 7-6 (7-4) to give NU the point.

Despite the dominant 7-0 score, several singles matches were very tense as three matches went to a third set. Senior Alicia Barnett, sophomore Alex Chatt and Rooney all hung on to pull out their matches in the third set, giving the Cats the decisive 7-0 victory.

Similarly, NU barely squeezed out the doubles point Sunday against Indiana, with sophomore Maddie Lipp and Chatt fighting back from a 5-2 deficit to decide the doubles point for the Cats. After fighting back to force a tiebreaker at 6-6,  Chatt and Lipp buckled down, winning 7-6 (7-3).

“We got off to a really slow start, but our opponents played really smartly,” Lipp said. “Once we figured them out we were able to execute back to how we usually do.”

Although NU didn’t record a shutout against the Hoosiers, its singles matches were more commanding Sunday, as only one singles match went to three sets, and the Cats won the first set in every singles win.

The match was decided quickly, as Lipp, Larner and Rooney all won in straight sets to seal the match for NU.

But the big takeaway from the weekend was the change in the doubles lineup. After playing a lineup almost all season with the team of Larner and Barnett at No. 2 doubles, Pollard decided on a lineup of Barnett and junior Brooke Rischbieth at No. 2 doubles with Larner and Rooney at No. 3 doubles. Barnett and Rischbieth went 1-1 over the weekend while Larner and Rooney went 2-0.

“Our personalities go well together, so I think we feel comfortable with each other,” Rooney said. “We played well together, so it was fun.”

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