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 secures undefeated home record with win versus Indiana on Senior Day

Henry Frieman/The Daily Northwestern
Northwestern huddles during Sunday’s Senior Day match. The ’Cats secured an 11-0 record at home this season.

Northwestern’s weekend match against Indiana marked its final time playing at Combe Tennis Center this year.

Before Sunday’s match play began, coach Claire Pollard gave a short speech about each departing player’s time with the program. Soon after, the Wildcats (17-5, 8-1 Big Ten) cruised by the Hoosiers (6-18, 0-10 Big Ten) in a 4-0 triumph.

The victory finalized NU’s 11-0 home record this season, the program’s most home wins in a season since 2017-2018.

Pollard’s team nabbed the doubles point for the sixth match in a row, and like each match over the past two weeks, the group did so in dominant fashion. Pollard called the doubles point the “unsung hero” for the squad’s recent success.

The No. 1 pairing of graduate student Christina Hand and senior Justine Leong, ranked No. 57 in the nation, defeated Saby Nihalani and Li Hsin Lin 6-1. The duo’s chemistry has led them to drop only two games in their last four matches.

“When we play together, I know what she’s going to do before she does it and she knows what I’m going to do.” Hand said in her Senior Spotlight on the team’s Instagram page. “It’s sort of an unspoken kind of thing.”

One court to their left, the No. 2 team of senior Maria Shusharina and graduate student Britany Lau clinched the doubles point for the ’Cats by winning 6-2. Shusharina and Lau played their last three matches at the No. 3. The pairing is now on a four-match winning streak. 

Graduate student Elisa Van Meeteren — who hadn’t played a doubles match in almost two months — replaced freshman Neena Feldman in the lineup. She and junior Sydney Pratt were up 5-3 at the No. 3 doubles slot when doubles play concluded.

The ’Cats kicked off singles play with two quick victories. No. 1 Shusharina won 6-1, 6-3, extending her match win streak to nine. After a short three match stint at the No. 4, Hand moved back to the No. 3 Sunday and swiftly prevailed 6-2, 6-2.

“(Sydney took) a couple of losses in her last matches, and Christina didn’t, so I felt like it was the right thing to make the switch back again,” Pollard said.

In her three matches at the No. 3 slot, Pratt went 1-2, while Hand was 3-0 at the No. 4 slot. Returning to her more familiar No. 4 slot, Pratt was in position to win 6-3, 5-4 when the match concluded. 

The player to clinch the victory for NU was none other than a senior playing her last career match inside Combe Tennis Center — Leong. After dominating the first set 6-1, Leong found herself in a tense second set tiebreak.

After originally leading the set 4-1, the senior found herself in a 5-2 hole to Elisabeth Dunac in the set’s tiebreak. She won three consecutive points to even the score at 5-5.

Dunac double faulted, allowing Leong to serve for the match at 6-5. A 40 second rally then ensued, and Dunac attempted an inside-out forehand that flew out, giving Leong the critical 6-1, 7-6(5) victory.

“(Leong’s) done a great job for us,” Pollard said. “(She) won a convincing first set, and I felt like she let (Dunac) in a little bit but then she got in there and got more disciplined and was a little more aggressive. At 4-2 (in the tiebreak), I walked over there and said, ‘Come on, you got to win this match.’”

Leong’s heroics — winning five consecutive points — capped off Senior Day with a ’Cats victory. Hand, her doubles teammate, stormed the court and picked up Leong, embodying the love between teammates cultivated over playing doubles together for three seasons.

No. 5 junior Kiley Rabjohns was amid a potential comeback when matchplay halted. Her scoreline read 5-7, 6-0, 1-1. On the opposite side of Combe Tennis Center, No. 6 Lau was also in the middle of a third set after losing the second set. The match was unfinished 6-4, 2-6, 1-2.

NU will travel to Columbus to take on Ohio State Friday afternoon. Currently, the two teams are tied for second in the Big Ten with 8-1 records.

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X: @CharlieSpungin

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