Women’s Tennis: Northwestern ups win streak to three, beats No. 56 Maryland and Rutgers


Daily file photo by Angeli Mittal

Senior Maria Shusharina prepares to hit the ball.

Lawrence Price, Sports Editor

After finding the win column for the first time in nearly a month against Michigan State on April 2, Northwestern used the victory as a launchpad toward more success.

The Wildcats (8-11, 4-3 Big Ten) upped the ante during the first two matches of their four-match road trip, defeating both No. 56 Maryland (14-6, 3-4 Big Ten) on Friday and Rutgers (9-8, 0-6 Big Ten) on Sunday.

The away trek began Friday versus the Terrapins, a trouble-free opponent for the Cats in the past as NU holds an undefeated 7-0 record against Maryland all-time. However, the Terrapins’ 5-1 home record entering the contest did pose a potential threat to their momentum. 

It was all business for the Cats, though, coming out the gate hot and staying that way throughout. NU took the first doubles match 6-4 behind senior Christina Hand and sophomore Justine Leong — maintaining their then-No. 34 doubles ranking. The third doubles duo of sophomore Sydney Pratt and junior Aino Alkio took the Cats out on a high note, winning their match 6-2.

On the singles side, Leong — a Big Ten Player of the Week in March — Pratt and junior Maria Shusharina led the way. Leong’s strong performance with a partner on the court translated to her play without one, taking the first set 6-4 and the second 6-1. Pratt saw victories on both courts as well, winning 6-3 and 6-4 in singles, while Shusharina’s determined 7-6 first-set win led to an easier 6-2 second-set win.

With continuous victories throughout the day, NU upped its overall record against Maryland to 8-0, winning the match 4-0. 

Even better, the Cats kept moving in the right direction versus Rutgers two days later. 

Rutgers entered the matchup pursuing its first conference win, but it was still left searching by the end of the Easter Sunday affair. Leong and Shushirina continued to dominate on the singles courts, winning both their matches, while then-No. 123 Hand won her two-set match as well.

For doubles, NU’s top duo of Leong and Hand replicated their performance versus the Terrapins against the Scarlet Knights, winning 6-4, while Shusharina and senior Briana Crowley walked away with a 6-3 win in the second matchup.

NU’s control from the get-go and consistency throughout the match were too much for Rutgers to overcome, leading to a 4-1 victory and a three-match win streak.

The Cats face the conference’s worst-record team in Minnesota on Friday, setting up an opportunity for another comfortable victory. However, coach Claire Pollard and her group’s ability to carry the momentum will be critical facing No. 21 Wisconsin on Sunday.

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