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Women’s Tennis: Northwestern heads to Michigan, looks to remain undefeated in Big Ten play

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Women’s Tennis: Northwestern heads to Michigan, looks to remain undefeated in Big Ten play

Senior Erin Larner prepares to receive a serve. Larner’s Wildcats will face a difficult pair of opponents this weekend.

Senior Erin Larner prepares to receive a serve. Larner’s Wildcats will face a difficult pair of opponents this weekend.

Daily file photo by Brian Meng

Senior Erin Larner prepares to receive a serve. Larner’s Wildcats will face a difficult pair of opponents this weekend.

Daily file photo by Brian Meng

Daily file photo by Brian Meng

Senior Erin Larner prepares to receive a serve. Larner’s Wildcats will face a difficult pair of opponents this weekend.

Brett Haensel, Reporter

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Women’s Tennis


Northwestern will look to remain undefeated in conference play when it travels to face a pair of Michigan-based opponents currently ranked in the top half of the Big Ten.

The No. 13 Wildcats (13-4, 6-0 Big Ten) will face Michigan State (13-5, 4-2) this weekend in addition to No. 24 Michigan (10-8, 6-0), which has also yet to drop a Big Ten match. Should NU beat the Wolverines, it would take sole possession of the top spot in the conference.

“We’re the best team (in the conference),” coach Claire Pollard said. “We’re going to go have some fun, enjoy Michigan, play great matches and let’s see what the scores are.”

The Cats have been on a tear as of late, losing just one match in their last 11. During that span, they have knocked off four top-25 opponents — including three in the top 10 — while falling to No. 26 Baylor on the road.

“We focused on getting out early on our opponents,” sophomore Julie Byrne said. “Claire kept telling us to get the first game and the first point of every game.”

NU will start its weekend road trip with a Saturday matchup against the Spartans. Sitting in fourth place in the conference, Michigan State will put an undefeated record of its own on the line, having gone 7-0 at home so far this season.

Despite the impressive home record, the Spartans have yet to beat a ranked opponent this year. Falling to No. 4 Georgia and No. 13 Auburn in its only matches against such opponents, Michigan State will look to knock off the highly ranked Cats without a single player ranked in the singles or doubles department.

“Michigan State is a good team,” senior Erin Larner said. “Last year we had a close one with them. They’re definitely well coached and hungry, and I think any time we play them they are ready to go.”

A day later, NU will travel to Ann Arbor in a battle for Big Ten supremacy. Michigan got off to a rocky start, losing eight of its first 12 matches before entering conference play. Since then, the Wolverines have yet to lose, ripping off six straight wins.

A win over the Cats would go a long way for a Michigan team looking to repeat as Big Ten Champions and deny NU its conference-leading 15th regular season title.

“Michigan has obviously been very dominant in the league the last couple of years,” Pollard said. “This weekend is no different than two weeks ago, six weeks ago. … You have got to show up every weekend and bring it. If you don’t, you lose.”

Email: bretthaensel2021@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @bretthaensel

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