Women’s Tennis: Cats look to continue undefeated conference streak going into weekend contests


Daily file photo by Lauren Duquette

Erin Larner serves. The junior and the Wildcats look to continue their winning streak in Big Ten play this weekend.

Sophie Mann, Digital Development and Recruitment Editor

Women’s Tennis

After more than a month of conference play, Northwestern remains undefeated in the Big Ten and hopes to keep it that way against Nebraska and Iowa this weekend.

The Wildcats (7-8, 3-0 Big Ten) will leave the comforts of Combe Tennis Center as they head to Lincoln to take on the Cornhuskers (16-2, 3-1) on Friday. Sunday, they’ll head to Iowa City for a dual with the Hawkeyes (13-3, 3-1).

The odds are in the Cats’ favor. NU took down both opponents last year, defeating Nebraska 5-2 and Iowa 7-0. The last time the team lost to Nebraska was during the 2012-13 season, and the Cats haven’t lost to Iowa in at least the last 10 years.

Despite NU’s recent success against its weekend foes, coach Claire Pollard said she didn’t plan to think about either opponent until late in the week.

“I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to our opponents,” Pollard said. “We still haven’t had a ton of play in the league, so it’s still easy to get misguided by some of the results.”

Instead, she’s focusing on keeping her players “fresh and hungry” going into each weekend of conference contests, and carrying over momentum from matches to practice.

Junior Erin Larner said having a new goal in mind for each match keeps the team energized and competitive each weekend.

“It’s kind of like the mindset that we have a new goal in mind, and that’s something that keeps us fresh and ready for each weekend,” Larner said. “The competing aspect … is something that continually motivates us.”

Sophomore Lee Or, who picked up a doubles win against the Cornhuskers last year along with Larner, said she thinks their experience beating Nebraska last season will help propel them forward against them this year.

“We know we can beat them … so we can do it again,” Or said. “Last year, our match with Nebraska wasn’t the greatest, but we won … This time, (we) aim to get it 7-0.”

Or also said that starting strong, unlike in Sunday’s contest against Rutgers, will allow the Cats to assert dominance early on.

Though NU’s opponents both enter the weekend with superior records, those numbers are somewhat misleading. All of NU’s losses have come at the hands of Top 25 teams. Nebraska and Iowa have both accrued their losses against unranked teams, with Nebraska most recently falling to lowly Minnesota and Iowa to mid-major Florida International.

Even after a shaky start to the season, Pollard said the team’s rhythm in conference play stems from the challenges it faced against Top 10 and Top 25 teams at the beginning of the season. Playing the best helps one become the best, she said.

“We played an incredibly challenging schedule at the start of the season; I like playing a challenging schedule,” Pollard said. “We didn’t always get the outcome and the results we wanted at the start of the season. It’s nice for the girls to feel more in control.”

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