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Women’s Tennis: Chatt, Lipp make run to semifinals of doubles bracket at ITA All-American

Alex Chatt and Maddie Lipp celebrate. The duo dropped out in the semifinals of the doubles main draw ITA All-American Championships on Saturday.

Daily file photo by Keshia Johnson

Daily file photo by Keshia Johnson

Alex Chatt and Maddie Lipp celebrate. The duo dropped out in the semifinals of the doubles main draw ITA All-American Championships on Saturday.

Max Schuman, Sports Editor

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Women’s Tennis

Northwestern’s regular season doesn’t begin until winter, but the doubles duo of juniors Alex Chatt and Maddie Lipp looks ready to go today.

At the ITA All-American Championships, Chatt and Lipp made the semifinals of the main doubles draw, where they fell Saturday in a tiebreak against North Carolina’s Haley Carter and Jessie Aney.

The pair got off to a fast start, dominating the first set, 6-2. But Carter and Aney, who went on to win the final on Sunday, clawed back into the match with a 7-5 second set win, pulling the match into a tiebreaker.

Chatt and Lipp had chances to win the match and make the final, but ultimately weren’t able to put away the North Carolina duo, who won the tiebreak 11-9 to break the Wildcats’ hearts.

“It’s a really tough loss.” Chatt said. “We had two match points. We were up a set. That’s why it hurt so much.”

Coming into the tournament seeded No. 7 in the main draw and ranked No. 8 in the ITA’s preseason national rankings, Chatt and Lipp were already regarded as one of the top doubles pairings in the nation. Last season, the two had a strong 24-11 record in doubles.

Their semifinals appearance over the weekend was a signal the pair is ready to live up to those expectations and a continuation of strong season-opening form after Chatt and Lipp won the doubles A draw at the NU-hosted Wildcat Invite in their first tournament. Lipp said she and her doubles partner are in a special place with their play right now.

“Our experience from last year really helped us,” she said. “Obviously, our last match was a huge heartbreaker, but I haven’t seen us play that well since playing together.”

Chatt and Lipp won two matches to make the semifinals. On Thursday, they beat Auburn’s Allie Michaud and Taylor Russo, 8-6, and on Friday they topped Pepperdine’s Mayar Sharif Ahmed and Christine Maddox in a tiebreak, 8-7 (7-5).

Assistant Coach Michelle Dasso, who traveled with the team to the tournament, said Chatt and Lipp were unlucky to have their run stop in the semifinals.

“They were very poised under pressure,” Dasso said. “They’re smart, passionate players. There’s literally no limit to what they can accomplish this season.”

Lipp and junior Erin Larner also competed as singles in the qualifying draw but lost in their first matches. Lipp followed that up with a loss in the qualifying backdraw to end her individual run in the tournament, while Larner elected to skip her backdraw match with a shoulder injury.

While the singles showing wasn’t the greatest for the Cats, Chatt and Lipp flashed their ability to compete at the highest level as a doubles pairing and took a step toward their goal of finishing as All-Americans.

“We came close to beating a really great team. Every single team out there is beatable,” Chatt said. “We’re using this to push us forward, and hopefully we can ride the confidence of how well we did in this tournament.”

Robbie Markus contributed reporting.

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Twitter: @maxschuman28