Women’s Tennis: Northwestern splits pair of weekend matches, finishes undefeated at home


Charlotte Che/The Daily Northwestern

Clarissa Hand and Maria Shusharina high-five after a point. Northwestern finished the regular season with a perfect 8-0 record at home.

Alex Cervantes, Assistant Sports Editor

Women’s Tennis

Not one, not two, not three, not four, but eight victories comprise Northwestern’s unblemished record at home this season, secured after Sunday’s home finale against Indiana.

“We’re all just controlling what we can control on the court,” graduate student Ema Lazic told The Daily last week. “We’re looking to use every single opportunity and just enjoy it all.”

Before the matchup against the Hoosiers, the Wildcats (12-6, 7-1 Big Ten) traveled to Columbus Friday to face No. 8 Ohio State. The meeting between NU and the Buckeyes featured a pair of then-undefeated teams in Big Ten play, with the winner taking command of first place in the conference. 

The Cats got on the board first after a doubles point win. A 6-4 victory from 78th-ranked duo of senior Clarissa Hand and sophomore Maria Shusharina and a 6-3 win from senior Hannah McColgan and freshman Sydney Pratt propelled NU to an early advantage. 

But Ohio State battled back, winning five of six singles matches and triumphing over the Cats, 5-2.

Turning the page quickly, NU capped off its homestand with a dominant 7-0 victory over Indiana on Senior Day. After honoring three graduating players — senior Vanessa Streng, McColgan and Lazic — the Cats secured the doubles point and jumped out to an early lead.

At No. 3, the pairing of juniors Christina Hand and Briana Crowley won 6-3, with McColgan and Pratt clinching the point with a 6-4 win. 

An Indiana forfeit at No. 6 gave the Cats a 2-0 lead before singles started. Straight-set victories from junior Justine Leong at No. 5 and Shusharina at No. 2 clinched a win for NU and a perfect finish at home. 

The success continued after four wins, as Pratt tidied up her singles match in straight sets. Clarissa Hand and Lazic’s matches went the distance, but both emerged victorious nevertheless.

Just three matches remain for the Cats before postseason play begins. NU will travel to Champaign for a clash with in-state rival Illinois. The Cats split regular season meetings with the Fighting Illini in 2021 — the home team was victorious in both matches. Sunday’s matchup is the first time NU and Illinois have met this year.

“It’s just another opportunity for us to go and play our tennis,” Lazic said. “All 11 of us are excited to compete, and it’s going to be high-level tennis no matter what.”

The regular season will conclude the following weekend as the Cats travel north to face Michigan State on April 23 and Michigan on April 24, respectively. A sweep of all three matches would secure a quarterfinals berth for NU in the Big Ten Tournament. 

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