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Women’s Tennis: Wildcats put perfect Big Ten streak on line

Alex+Chatt+%28left%29+celebrates+a+point+with+her+doubles+partner%2C+Maddie+Lipp.+The+juniors+and+the+Wildcats+are+seeking+to+extend+their+unbeaten+start+to+Big+Ten+play.
Alex Chatt (left) celebrates a point with her doubles partner, Maddie Lipp. The juniors and the Wildcats are seeking to extend their unbeaten start to Big Ten play.

Alex Chatt (left) celebrates a point with her doubles partner, Maddie Lipp. The juniors and the Wildcats are seeking to extend their unbeaten start to Big Ten play.

Daily file photo by Keshia Johnson

Daily file photo by Keshia Johnson

Alex Chatt (left) celebrates a point with her doubles partner, Maddie Lipp. The juniors and the Wildcats are seeking to extend their unbeaten start to Big Ten play.

Cole Paxton, Sports Editor

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Women’s Tennis


The Wildcats have sped through the Big Ten season, and nothing is slowing them down.

Northwestern (9-8, 5-0 Big Ten) has won four straight matches and is unblemished in conference play with nearly half of league matches in the books, a red-hot stretch the Cats will look to continue this weekend at Purdue and Indiana.

On paper, those matches look like they will be more wins for NU. The Boilermakers (5-11, 0-5) are in the midst of an extended 11-match losing streak and have not won since late January. The Hoosiers (11-9, 2-3), meanwhile, are further from the Big Ten cellar but do not have a win against a team with a winning record in conference play.

The Cats have feasted on lesser opponents early in the Big Ten season. NU owns recent wins over Rutgers, which has won just one conference match, and Iowa, which sits in the middle of the Big Ten pack with a 3-3 record.

Though the Cats lack signature wins, they have demonstrated exceptional consistency all season, mowing down nine of their 10 unranked foes since dual play began in January.

After NU’s most recent wins — road triumphs at Nebraska and Iowa — sophomore Rheeya Doshi said the Cats have been successful in part because they do not change their approach from day to day.

“We treat every match equally and all matches are important,” Doshi said on Sunday. “Just working hard and giving it our best really helped the team as a whole.”

NU’s recent hot streak is particularly impressive because of what preceded it. The Cats dropped four straight matches in March and lost eight of nine at one point, tumbling to a 5-8 overall record.

Still, coach Claire Pollard said she believes the rough early season slate, which was extraordinarily difficult — NU lost four matches to top-10 foes — has ultimately helped the Cats. Still, she added, the wins have also been beneficial.

“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 (now).”

The tough schedule will soon return for NU, which plays its final three matches against opponents who have lost just one Big Ten match combined. As Pollard has said throughout the season, however, contests against purportedly lesser opponents do not come easy.

“Week to week things change a lot,” Pollard said. “Ultimately, the girls know that they have to come out and perform well.”

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Twitter: @ckpaxton

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