Women’s Tennis: No. 19 Cats split weekend matches against UIC, No. 16 Kansas


Daily file photo by Alison Albelda

Julie Byrne hits a forehand. She had a successful weekend, but Northwestern split its two weekend matches.

Andy Marquardt, Reporter

Women’s Tennis

Northwestern’s first weekend of the spring season featured a healthy mix of high points and low points, as the Wildcats’ dominant 7-0 home opener against the University of Illinois Chicago was followed by a disappointing 5-2 loss at No. 16 Kansas.

In front of a solid home crowd at Combe Tennis Center in Evanston on Friday afternoon, No. 19 NU opened up season play shutting out the Flames in both singles and doubles matches. The Cats, looking to repeat as Big Ten conference champions, did not drop a set in singles play and quickly won their three doubles matches to claim the doubles point.

Junior Julie Byrne, who went undefeated in both last weekend’s Miami Spring Invite and this weekend’s singles matches, said she is proud of the way NU came out ready to play against UIC.

“We all came out really strong,” Byrne said. “Everyone felt pretty comfortable in our spots and it was nice to get out and get a win in front of a good crowd. We got to see how competitive we are as a team, and to kind of set the tone for the rest of the season.”

The Cats faced a quick turnaround when they hit the road Sunday to face a tough Jayhawks roster that featured several ranked opponents. In Lawrence, NU hit its first road block of the season, dropping four of six singles matches and losing the doubles point after leading for most of that match.

Coach Claire Pollard said Sunday’s loss gave the team an idea of where they stand as a group and exposed areas that they will work to improve.

“(Sunday) was a rude awakening,” Pollard said. “But I think it will be good for us in the long run. It’s easy to identify the problems, it’s another thing to fix them. As long as we’re headed in the right direction, I can live with it.”

According to Byrne, getting back in that right direction means improving doubles play and coming into practice each day ready to compete.

NU continues its season this weekend with home matches against the University of Central Florida and a dual match against the University of Miami and the University of Tulsa, and Byrne said there’s still significant room to grow.

“The level is really high and we’re there,” she said. “But if we’re not holding each other accountable then we won’t beat those high ranked teams.”

Despite the overall loss, there were high points to Sunday’s face-off against the Jayhawks. Byrne defeated No. 34 ranked Janet Koch in an impressive three-set match, while sophomore Caroline Pozo won her singles match, picking up the Cats’ second point of the day.

Pozo, who picked up two singles wins over the weekend, already has half as many singles wins as she compiled all of last season. The sophomore said she is excited by her start to the season but is ready to continue to improve both individually and as a team.

“There are a lot of small things that each one of us can improve on,” Pozo said. “Hopefully (doing so) will provide some better results come game day.”

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