The Daily Northwestern

Women’s Tennis: Northwestern sweeps doubleheader against Big Ten rivals

Lee Or slices a forehand. The junior helped the Wildcats extend their winning streak to five matches this weekend.

Lee Or slices a forehand. The junior helped the Wildcats extend their winning streak to five matches this weekend.

Daily file photo by Brian Meng

Daily file photo by Brian Meng

Lee Or slices a forehand. The junior helped the Wildcats extend their winning streak to five matches this weekend.

Calvin Alexander, Reporter

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Women’s Tennis

Northwestern swept aside two Big Ten foes this weekend to extend its win streak to five matches.

The No. 14 Wildcats (8-3, 2-0 Big Ten) started the weekend off against No. 5 Illinois (10-2, 1-1). The Cats handily defeated Iowa on Sunday, but the top-15 matchup against Illinois was close from the start.

Senior Maddie Lipp expressed confidence going in, because Illinois has not defeated NU since 2004. However, after the doubles point it appeared as though the Fighting Illini might break the 14-year streak.

After NU’s Nos. 1 and 3 doubles teams split the first two matches, the doubles point fell on the shoulders of the No. 2 pair of senior Alex Chatt and junior Lee Or. The tight set ended in a lopsided tiebreaker in favor of the Fighting Illini, who took the 1-0 lead.

“Doubles has really deteriorated,” head coach Claire Pollard said.

However, the Cats flipped the momentum in the singles. Lipp cruised to a 6-1, 6-2 win, and Chatt won her match in straight sets as well. Senior Erin Larner split her first two sets, but blanked her opponent in the third set to win 6-1, 3-6, 6-0.

Freshman Inci Ogut then dropped her match, which put the Cats up 3-2 with Or and sophomore Julie Byrne locked in three-set matches. Or fought back after losing the first set 6-3, and won the next two sets to clinch the 4-2 win for NU, bringing Byrne’s match to a premature halt.

“I don’t think we are playing any better than earlier in the season,” Pollard said. “I think we have learned to win, and that is important.”

That win marked the second consecutive top-10 win for the Cats. However, that was not the end of the weekend for NU as they headed home to face Iowa (7-4, 0-2).

The Cats once again struggled in the doubles point against Iowa. Just like the Illinois matchup, the No. 1 pair won and the No. 2 pair lost. This time it was up to No. 3 doubles team of Byrne and junior Rheeya Doshi to secure the opening point. They won their set 6-4 and set the tone for the rest of the match against the Hawkeyes.

“We’ve had a really strong doubles point this year,” Larner said. “Girls will come out swinging against us, so we have to come out swinging as well.”

The singles portion of the match went more more smoothly. Ogut and Byrne were both off the court quickly after winning by the same score of 6-1, 6-3. Soon after, Larner closed out her match in straight sets and clinched the win for NU.

Even with those straightforward victories, the remainder of the matches were tight. Chatt lost a set, but recovered and won her match. Lipp was pushed to a tiebreaker in the second set, but won, and Or lost a 7-5 third set to drop her match.

All in all, the Cats beat the Hawkeyes 6-1 but had to work hard for the win. Pollard and her players were thankful to get out of the weekend with two wins.

“I don’t care what the other team is ranked. I don’t care what we are ranked,” Pollard said. “We have to play our best every week.”

Twitter: @CalvAlexander