Women’s Tennis: After solid start, NU looks to build upon early successes with Big Ten play approaching


Daily file photo by Angeli Mittal

Northwestern players high five following a win.

Alex Cervantes, Reporter

Northwestern’s 2021 dual season ended quicker than desired, following a Round of 32 exit to Texas A&M. The Wildcats returned six players from that squad for the 2022 dual season but retooled with five new faces in Evanston. 

NU (4-3, 0-0 Big Ten) has weathered some of the early bumps in the season and is starting to hit its groove. 

The Cats are led by senior Clarissa Hand, who is the squad’s No. 1 singles player and ranks 85th nationally according to the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings. Hand is 3-3 in singles play so far this season, including a win over then-No. 35 Carolyn Campana in the match against Wake Forest. 

Hand’s doubles partner, sophomore Maria Shusharina, has been impressive as well. She has bounced from the No. 3 spot to No. 2 on the singles card since the start of the season and also notched a notable victory over then-No. 69 Ava Hrastar of Georgia Tech. 

As a doubles pairing, Hand and Shusharina have secured two consecutive victories and will look to carry that momentum into the spring. 

“I really enjoy playing with (Maria),” Hand said of the partnership. “I think our games complement each other quite well because we both know going into a match that we are very confident from the baseline. Both of us can set each other up at the net … having that as our game plan sets the tone for the match right from the beginning. I think we’re doing really well.”

The newcomers have not taken long to settle in and have made quite the impression, too. First-year Sydney Pratt is 4-2 on the season in singles, including a dominant 6-0, 6-1 victory over Harvard on Feb. 20.

Graduate student Ema Lazic, who played four years at Duke, has also been an immediate plug-and-play piece for coach Claire Pollard. Lazic is undefeated on the season at 5-0 and has seemingly secured the No. 5 spot in singles for the Cats. Junior Justine Leong has also been a mainstay in the singles card. 

Key returners in juniors Christina Hand and Briana Crowley, as well as senior Hannah McColgan, have all featured in singles matches, altogether boasting a 4-3 record.]

NU is beginning to find their footing at the right time with Big Ten play fast approaching in mid-March. 

“I think we have great energy,” Crowley said of the team. “We’re all really excited to play for something that’s much bigger than ourselves. We’re all just really good friends and we want to win for each other, so that’s what makes this team really special this year.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @CervantesPAlex 

Related Stories:

Northwestern women’s tennis dominates Notre Dame in 6-1 victory

Northwestern women’s tennis falls in tight battle to Georgia Tech 4-3

Northwestern women’s tennis beats Penn State, falls to Wake Forest