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Women’s Tennis: Northwestern digs deep to upset No. 7 Vanderbilt

Maddie Lipp swings through a backhand. The senior played a key role in the Wildcats’ win over No. 7 Vanderbilt

Maddie Lipp swings through a backhand. The senior played a key role in the Wildcats’ win over No. 7 Vanderbilt

Brian Meng/The Daily Northwestern

Brian Meng/The Daily Northwestern

Maddie Lipp swings through a backhand. The senior played a key role in the Wildcats’ win over No. 7 Vanderbilt

Calvin Alexander, Reporter

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Women’s Tennis

Northwestern pulled off the upset over No. 7 Vanderbilt on Friday to extend its winning streak to three matches.

The No. 24 Wildcats (6-3) started the season with disappointing results, though this win marks their second top-25 win in one week. Coach Claire Pollard said her team got as close to their best as they had all season.

“We’ve been getting better after every single match that we’ve played,” Pollard said. “And we finally came out on top in a tough match.”

The matchup began with a return to doubles success for the Cats. After conceding the doubles point to Washington the week prior, NU recaptured the point that they have lost just once all season.

The No. 2 doubles pair of junior Lee Or and senior Alex Chatt quickly won their set 6-2. After some tension toward the conclusion, the No. 1 doubles team of seniors Erin Larner and Maddie Lipp joined their teammates in victory and clinched the point for the Cats.

“When you play a great school like Vanderbilt, the doubles point is critical,” Pollard said. “You have to let them know that you are here for real.”

The first two singles matches turned the match on its head with two wins for the Commodores (7-2). Or and freshman Inci Ogut both fell in straight sets.

However, after going down 2-1, the Cats took over the match. Chatt spearheaded the comeback with a convincing 6-3, 6-2 win. She took early leads in both sets and never gave her opponent a glimpse of hope.

“The team had a mindset of just getting a set,” Chatt said. “Maddie and Claire both vocalized a new mindset of getting up and staying on top.”

The ongoing contests were close as well. Sophomore Julie Byrne and Lipp both won their first sets in tiebreakers and Larner split the first two sets with her opponent. Byrne’s was the first of those matches to finish after she took the second set 6-2.

Larner raced out to win the first set against the No. 5 singles player in the nation, Fernanda Contreras. However, Contreras raised her level of play and took the second set and the momentum going into the deciding set.

“Sometimes I can get tentative in tight matches,” Larner said. “Claire gave me a gameplan adjustment and told me I needed to take control of the court.”

Pollard’s suggestion seemed to work, as Larner won the third set 6-1 and clinched the win for NU. Therefore, Lipp did not finish her match because the overall result had already been decided.

The win marks NU’s sixth win of the season and first over a top-10 opponent. The Cats now have reason for optimism after a shaky start to the season.

“We definitely are going to use the momentum going forward,” Chatt said. “Especially because our schedule does not get any easier.”

Twitter: @CalvAlexander