Women’s Tennis: 14th-seeded Northwestern to face 3rd-seeded Duke in Sweet 16


Daily file photo by Brian Meng

Rheeya Doshi prepares to serve. The junior has been an unlikely star in the postseason thus far.

Calvin Alexander, Reporter

Women’s Tennis

Northwestern will look to build off its back-to-back wins to start the NCAA Tournament as the team enters the Sweet 16.

The 14th-seeded Wildcats (23-5, 11-0 Big Ten) have a daunting task awaiting them in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Third-seeded Duke (25-3, 13-1 ACC) will square off with NU with a quarterfinals spot on the line.

The Cats come into the matchup red-hot, however, after kicking off the tournament with two resounding wins. NU beat Buffalo (17-4, 8-0 Mid-American) in the first round 4-0, and swept its second-round opponent, No. 42 Kansas State (15-11, 4-5 Big 12), as well.

“It’s not easy to get to the Sweet 16, no matter who you have in your draw,” senior Alex Chatt said. “We just kept our heads down and stayed focused and it paid off.”

The Cats will also draw confidence from the fact they are 2-0 in matchups against top-5 seeds in the tournament. Their 4-2 victories earlier this season against top-seeded Vanderbilt and 4th-seeded Georgia Tech give them a blueprint for taking out a top team like the Blue Devils.

For NU to pull the upset, it will need to rely on the players who have caught fire lately. Junior Rheeya Doshi has played a key role in bringing this team to where it is now. After being dropped from the singles lineup for the entirety of regular season Big Ten play, Doshi was re-inserted in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.

She won in straight sets that day and did not lose a singles set in the four subsequent matches. Additionally, Doshi, along with sophomore partner Julie Byrne, went 5-for-5 in doubles sets in that same span, twice clinching the doubles point for NU.

“My teammates have pushed me to get better every day,” Doshi said. “But I’ve just been enjoying myself on the court, not thinking too much.”

Nonetheless, it will be a tall task for the Cats to beat the Blue Devils. Duke has lost to just two teams this season: North Carolina and Georgia Tech, both of which are ranked in the top five in the nation.

The Blue Devils have also recorded six top-20 wins this year, one coming against top-five opponent North Carolina. In addition, the team sports two of the top-10 doubles teams in the country, along with five nationally ranked singles players.

The Blue Devils will also hold the advantage of remaining in-state, whereas NU must travel several hundred miles to get to the Wake Forest Tennis Complex. Despite what they are up against, the Cats said they feel optimistic about the matchup.

“I feel 100 percent confident in the girls, wherever we’re going to play,” coach Claire Pollard said. “If we stick to our formula, we will be in great shape.”

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