Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Women’s Tennis: Northwestern defeats Purdue 4-1 with strong matchplay start

Daily file photo by Henry Frieman
Graduate student Christina Hand and senior Justine Leong celebrate after winning a doubles point. The pairing won 6-0 in Friday’s tilt against Purdue.

Two days after Northwestern had its loss to Wisconsin overturned, coach Claire Pollard’s squad returned to the court to take on Purdue Friday afternoon.

The Wildcats (16-5, 7-1 Big Ten) defeated the Boilermakers (11-8, 4-5 Big Ten) 4-1, winning their 10th match at home of the season.

NU secured the doubles point for the fifth consecutive match. The ’Cats’ No. 1 duo of graduate student Christina Hand and senior Justine Leong — the No. 57 doubles team in the nation — dominated Tara Katarina Milic and Carmen Gallardo Guevara 6-0.

The victory extended Hand and Leong’s winning streak to five, as the duo have only dropped one game over their last three matches.

“Christina and (Justine) are the ultimate combination of complementary players,” Pollard said. “I think they compliment themselves so well. You’ve got (Leong) hitting forehands so big and hard, and Christina’s presence, size and reach is just really a great formula.”

NU clinched the other doubles point with the No. 3 pairing of senior Maria Shusharina and graduate student Britnay Lau winning 6-3.

As singles play commenced, the lopsided scoreline didn’t reflect the ‘Cats’ close-run play, with three of six matches entering a third set.

No. 6 Lau continued her momentum from doubles en route to a dominant 6-0, 6-4 victory. Similarly, No. 1 Shusharina found a straight set victory 6-3, 6-3, extending her win streak to eight.

Lau and Shusharina’s performances gave NU a 3-0 advantage over Purdue, but each other singles match was neck-and-neck. No. 3 junior Sydney Pratt lost to Kennedy Gibbs 1-6, 6-0, 6-1. Although Pratt lost two of her last three matches, Pollard said she isn’t worried about the Glenview native.

“The first set was deceptive,” Pollard said. “I think we won all the deuce points, and then I think in the second set, we lost all of them … She’s having a tremendous season.”

No. 4 Hand clinched the match, overcoming a loss in the first set as she dug deep to find a 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 victory against Juana Larranaga.

Across Combe Tennis Center, No. 5 junior Kiley Rabjohns did not finish her match despite positioning herself to come back from a set deficit versus Milic. Upon the match being called, the scoreline read 6(4)-7, 6-2, 5-2 in Rabjohns’ favor.

Pollard said that she was very attentive to this match, and Rabjohns’ in-match adjustments were key to turning the tides.

“I just felt like the longer the points went on and the longer we could play, I felt like once we got the ball down low on (Milic’s) forehand, it definitely turned the match in our favor,” Pollard said.

No. 2 Leong’s match was also unfinished, as it was 5-7, 6-6 upon the overall match’s completion. Leong had a double break advantage in both sets — but could not keep hold of either to win a set.

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