Women’s tennis: NU advances to Round of 16 with two comeback victories


Alison Albelda/Daily Senior Staffer

Caroline Pozo celebrates on the court following her dramatic match clinching victory. Against Miami, she won in three sets

Charlie Goldsmith, Sports Editor

Women’s Tennis

The memories of the heartbreaker last season in the ITA National Kickoff Weekend at the hands of UCLA still haven’t completely dissipated for this Northwestern team.

But in sophomore Caroline Pozo’s second appearance in this event, she was able to take a dramatic, climactic three-set victory that propelled Northwestern (3-1) to the Round of 16. For the second day in a row, the Wildcats rallied from a 2-3 deficit to defeat a ranked opponent, beating No. 22 UCF (3-2) and No. 17 Miami (4-1) 4-3 this weekend in Evanston to advance.

“It was kind of just all on me,” Pozo said. “But I didn’t really think about it like that. I was just (going) to play, kind of just stay in the moment and not think ahead.”

After Pozo won four consecutive games to close the third set, NU had earned its first spot in this round of the tournament since 2014, leading to an on-court celebration following match point. It was the second late rally this weekend for the Cats, who trailed after the first set in five out of six singles matches Saturday against UCF but rebounded to take the 4-3 victory.

Then one day later, NU took an early 1-0 lead as freshman Clarissa Hand and senior Lee Orr secured the team the doubles point. While junior Julie Byrne earned a quick 6-3, 6-0 win in singles over No. 82 Daniella Roldan, the Hurricanes took the next three matches at No. 1, No. 3 and No. 5 to take a 3-2 lead.

Then with the team’s back against the wall, sophomore Inci Ogut responded from losing a close second set tiebreaker to Yuna Ito by winning the third set 6-1. That tied the match at three, with Pozo’s match the only one remaining. With the entire crowd focused on her, she had a clutch performance to win the match for NU.

“(Ogut) had match points in the second set and didn’t convert but then she took her match so strong in the third, a credit to her,” sophomore Julie Byrne said. “And then Pozo just pure aggression playing at six, each player just really dug in today.”

After sweeping the field over the weekend, NU advances to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in February at the University of Washington as one of the final 16 teams remaining.

Despite losing 5-2 to No. 16 Kansas a week ago, the young Cats were able to have success against two highly-rated teams in a high-pressure environment.

“It was just such a phenomenal college tennis match,” said coach Claire Pollard. “I liked our spirit, I thought our competitiveness was stronger. … This game will get to you, and it’s got some highs and lows. You’ve just got to stick with it. And I’m happy for them.”

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