Women’s Tennis: Northwestern eyes Big Ten title with veteran returners


Daily file photo by Angeli Mittal

Clarissa Hand fist pumps after a point. Hand, along with much of Northwestern’s team, will return for another run at a Big Ten title next season.

Alex Cervantes, Senior Staffer

Following its 26th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, Northwestern will return most of its key pieces. 

The Wildcats’ 2022 spring dual season was a bit of a rollercoaster, but they finished with a 14-10 record, ultimately falling to Wake Forest in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Ema Lazic, Hannah McColgan and Vanessa Streng departed the program after graduation. 

Coach Claire Pollard will certainly miss Lazic’s dominance on the singles card (she tallied 15 wins), but NU retains plenty of talent. No. 1 singles player Clarissa Hand has taken advantage of her extra year of eligibility due to COVID-19 and will don the purple-and-white for one more season. Hand was the Cats’ only ranked singles player for the majority of the spring, finishing the season ranked 91st in the country.

Hand’s doubles partner, sophomore Maria Shusharina, is also back for NU. Both members of the pair were selected to the All-Big Ten team. Shusharina cemented her place at No. 2 on the singles card in the spring, with a 12-9 record.

Other notable returnees include junior Christina Hand, who posted a 13-4 record in singles play; freshman Sydney Pratt, who made an immediate impact and went 12-8 and seniors Justine Leong and Briana Crowley. 

Pollard, who has guided the Cats to 15 Big Ten Tournament titles since 1999, inked a contract extension through 2026 in May. She and NU have a formidable and veteran-laden squad entering next season looking to once again reach the mountaintop of Big Ten women’s tennis and hang another banner in the Combe Tennis Center.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @CervantesPAlex 

Related Stories:

Northwestern women’s tennis falls to Wake Forest in NCAA Tournament 

Northwestern women’s tennis falls short in Big Ten Tournament semifinals 

Northwestern women’s tennis splits pair of matches to end regular season