Women’s Tennis: 14th-seeded Northwestern looks to start NCAA Tournament run at home


Daily file photo by Noah Frick-Alofs

Maddie Lipp hits a forehand. Lipp and the Wildcats will face Buffalo in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Calvin Alexander, Reporter

Women’s Tennis

After a successful season thus far, Northwestern will host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament this weekend.

The No. 13 Wildcats (21-5, 11-0 Big Ten) received the 14th seed in this year’s tournament. The 16 seeded teams in the draw host the first two rounds of their individual section, and the Cats said they are very excited to be playing in Evanston.

Buffalo (17-3, 8-0 Mid-American) will be NU’s first-round opponent. The Mid-American Conference champions should be brimming with confidence, having won 14 matches in a row coming into the matchup.

However, one of the Bulls’ three losses came at the hands of Penn State by a score of 6-1. By comparison, NU trounced that same team with an identical score in its regular season match with the Nittany Lions. Thus, the Cats should be optimistic about their chances of advancing to the second round.

“We know we need to show up at every spot, every time we step out there,” senior Erin Larner said. “We are going to take it one match at a time.”

The other first-round match being played at the Combe Tennis Center will be between No. 26 Kentucky (14-10, 6-7 SEC) and No. 42 Kansas State (14-10, 4-5 Big 12) in a battle of two other Wildcats. The winner of that match will face off against the winner of NU’s brawl with the Bulls on Saturday in the second round.

If NU does advance to the second round, the team could face a familiar foe in Kentucky. The two teams met in the first round of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend earlier this season in Lexington, Kentucky. The hosts got beaten handily, losing all four completed points on the day.

“We were incredibly good that day; it was one of our best performances of the year,” coach Claire Pollard said. “Hopefully we can get back to that level against whoever we play.”

Kansas State would present a completely different challenge if the Cats were to advance. Unlike Kentucky, NU has not played against those Wildcats this season; however, the teams do share two common opponents.

Both teams have lost to Texas already. NU took the doubles point from the Longhorns — along with a singles match — before faltering 4-2, whereas Kansas State was swept in its matchup.

The other matchup the two teams have in common is with Baylor. Kansas State held on against the Bears to win 4-3, while NU found itself on the losing side, 5-2.

Even though Buffalo, Kentucky and Kansas State are all lower in the rankings than NU, the team must be focused and alert this weekend so as to avoid an upset on its home courts. Three of the Cats’ five losses this season have come against lower-ranked teams.

“I have no plans on ending any time soon,” senior Maddie Lipp said. “Hopefully we get our two matches done and we keep going for another three or four weeks.”

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