Women’s Tennis: Northwestern comes up short in Big Ten Tournament semifinals


Daily file photo by Angeli Mittal

Senior Clarissa Hand prepares to hit the ball. Hand was named to the All-Tournament team after Northwestern made the Big Ten Tournament semifinals.

Alex Cervantes, Assistant Sports Editor

Women’s Tennis

After earning a double-bye and quarterfinals appearance at the Big Ten Tournament, Northwestern’s run in Iowa City ended in the semifinals. 

The Wildcats (14-9, 8-3 Big Ten) faced Nebraska in their tournament opener last Friday. The two teams met at the beginning of April, with NU emerging victorious 4-1. Their second clash this season, however, proved much more entertaining. 

The Cornhuskers got on the scoreboard first, securing the doubles point behind wins at No. 1 and No. 2. An early deficit didn’t deter the Cats, as they quickly claimed a 3-1 advantage, snagging all momentum and full control of the match. 

Sophomore Maria Shusharina was the first NU player to earn a singles win as a straight sets 6-4, 6-1 win brought the match level at 1-1. At No. 5, junior Christina Hand followed up Shusharina’s performance with an equally dominant 6-2, 6-4 victory. Graduate student Ema Lazic secured the Cats’ third consecutive point with a 6-2, 7-5 straight sets win.

But Nebraska didn’t fade or buckle, rallying to eventually tie the match. Three set wins by Cornhuskers over senior Clarissa Hand at No. 1 and freshman Sydney Pratt at No. 3 had NU staring down a potential early exit. 

All eyes then turned to junior Justine Leong, who rose to the occasion. Leong’s 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 victory secured the match-winning fourth point and ensured a semifinals berth for the Cats. 

Last Saturday, NU faced a familiar foe in No. 2 seed Michigan. The Cats and Wolverines were just six days removed from their last matchup, a 4-1 victory in favor of Michigan. 

NU jumped out to an early lead as the pairings of Shusharina and Clarissa Hand at No. 1, plus the junior duo of Briana Crowley and Christina Hand grabbed the doubles point. 

But similar to the Cats the preceding day, the Wolverines responded in quick fashion, with three consecutive wins at courts two, three and four. NU battled back though, as Clarissa Hand picked up a 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 win on court one over No. 19 Kari Miller. Crowley defeated her opponent on court six in three sets as well, but it wasn’t enough. 

After winning the opening set, Christina Hand was unable to close out a win, falling at court five as Michigan advanced to the title game. The Wolverines would go on to defeat No. 1 seed Ohio State 4-0 last Sunday. Clarissa Hand was the lone ‘Cat to make the All-Tournament team. 

Focus now shifts to the NCAA Tournament as NU makes its 26th consecutive appearance. The Cats will face Wake Forest in the first round Saturday in the Athens Regional. 

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