Women’s Tennis: Northwestern heads to Nebraska for Big Ten Tournament


Daily file photo by Alison Albelda

Inci Ogut hits the ball. The sophomore and the Wildcats open Big Ten Tournament play against Ohio State on Friday.

Peter Warren, Print Managing Editor

Women’s Tennis

Northwestern’s conference season has been a rollercoaster ride, but the Wildcats have a chance for redemption at the 2019 Big Ten Championships this weekend in Lincoln, Nebraska.

NU (14-9, 7-4 Big Ten) started off conference play with five straight victories heading into a mammoth matchup with Michigan. The Cats lost the match, and the inside track to the regular-season title. The next day, NU fell to lowly Michigan State, eliminating the Cats from the title, and then dropped two contests to Minnesota and Wisconsin.

But after a midweek pounding of Chicago State, the Cats bounced back with two weekend wins over Ohio State and Penn State to put them on track for one of the biggest weekends of the year. NU heads into the tournament as the No. 5 seed, and will play the No. 4 Buckeyes on Friday.

“We’ve been really tough this year,” coach Claire Pollard said. “That’s been one of our strengths. I really have been pleasantly surprised at how tough we’ve been.”

Last season, NU went undefeated in the Big Ten regular season on its way to finishing as the runner-up in the conference’s postseason tournament.

Junior Julie Byrne heads into the weekend tournament in the Cornhusker State on a hot streak. The Ireland native has won her last five singles matches, including a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Ohio State’s Shiori Fukuda, a top-100 ranked player, and is the most recent winner of the Big Ten Player of the Week.

Freshman Clarissa Hand has played almost the whole season at No. 1 singles and has had some success in the top spot. She has been named conference player of the week twice this season and is 5-5 against nationally ranked players.

At doubles, the No. 1 pairing of Hand and senior Lee Or has dropped only one match in the past month, and is 14-6 on the season. Behind them is the team of Byrne and freshman Hannah McColgan. The duo has gone 11-4 in the No. 2 position.

If they win the matchup with the Buckeyes, the Cats would be projected to play No. 1 seeded Michigan the next day. If NU pulls the upset, and the other side of the bracket holds true to form, the Cats would play No. 2 Wisconsin.

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