Women’s Tennis: Wildcats look to improve after losses in Miami Invite


Daily file photo by Alison Albelda

Clarissa Hand hits a forehand. Northwestern had mixed results last weekend in Miami.

Grayson Welo, Reporter

Women’s Tennis

Northwestern women’s tennis traded in cold weather for sunshine this weekend as it kicked off its 2020 season at the Miami Invite in Coral Gables, Fla. The Cats competed in three days of singles and doubles matches against Miami, Oklahoma and Vanderbilt.

NU showed mixed results over the course of the tournament, and ultimately fell to all three opponents.

Although this weekend’s results did not favor the Cats, coach Claire Pollard believes the playing experience was worthwhile to the team.

“We are young, and we are not playing with a ton of experience of being in the heat of the battle,” she said. “Even though our results were disappointing, we are close, and we just got to work hard enough from the top of our heads, down to our shoulders.”

NU finished with underwhelming singles results — six wins in 16 matches over the weekend. However, freshman Briana Crowley led the team and won two of her three singles matches. Crowley beat Miami freshman Nada Dimovska, 7-6 (7-2) 6-3, after clinching the first set in a tie-breaker and later won against Oklahoma sophomore Ivana Corley in similar tie-breaker fashion 6-4, 7-6 (7-5).

Crowley was the only member of the Cats to win more than one singles match during the invitational.

“In the offseason, I’ve been working on staying aggressive and competing really hard,” Crowley said. “I think that was a big thing that helped in my singles and progressed throughout my matches in the tournament.”

NU found more success in doubles with an overall record of 7-5. Pollard tested nine different doubles pairings throughout the tournament. Sophomore Vanessa Streng won all three of her doubles matches, despite playing with a different partner in each. The coaching staff is using this time to experiment and find the best combinations before the start of the Big Ten season.

“We are quite an emotional team and I think that showed. And maturity will gain as the season goes on,” Pollard said. “They care at such a deeper level to win that they put so much stress on their shoulders, and one another.”
Senior Julie Byrne agreed that mental game is important, especially when playing in Miami where the temperatures are hotter and the outdoor court conditions are slower, causing the game style to change.

Moving forward, Pollard believes the Cats can accomplish a lot this season. The Miami Invite was the first of several occasions where the Cats compete before the start of the Big Ten season in late February. After finishing fifth last year in the Big Ten and losing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, NU plans to put themselves back on top.

“We are always a championship-driven team,” Pollard said. “I can’t tell you that we are there yet, but that is what we are striving for year in and year out, and we are just a team that is trying to get the most out of ourselves.”

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