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 beats Nebraska, falls to Ohio State in Big Ten Tournament semifinals

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Daily file photo by Henry Frieman
Senior Maria Shusharina prepares to return a point during a match earlier this season. She clinched the victory for Northwestern in the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(10) victory.

Four hours east of Evanston in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Northwestern earned the coveted double bye as the No. 3 seed at the Big Ten Tournament.

Sitting comfortably idle on Wednesday and Thursday, the Wildcats (19-7, 9-2 Big Ten) met their first foe, No. 11-seed Nebraska, on Friday after the Cornhuskers (14-11, 3-8 Big Ten) upset No. 6-seed Maryland on Thursday.

Nebraska nearly pulled off its second upset of the tournament over the ’Cats, but it was not to be, as NU held on for a 4-3 victory.

After winning the doubles point in eight consecutive matches, NU dropped its first doubles point in more than a month of play. The last team to take the doubles point against the ’Cats was Nebraska on March 22.

The ’Cats’ No. 2 duo of junior Sydney Pratt and freshman Neena Feldman fell 6-3 to begin doubles play, but soon after, the No. 3 pairing of graduate student Britany Lau and senior Maria Shusharina won their match 6-4.

These results left the fate of the doubles point to NU’s No. 1 team and the nation’s No. 59 duo, graduate student Christina Hand and senior Justine Leong. Unfortunately for the ’Cats, Raphaëlle Lacasse and Maja Pietrowicz got the better of Hand and Leong, taking the set 7-5.

Down 1-0 in the match, NU needed to win four of six singles points to secure victory. Despite this disadvantage, the ’Cats came out to singles play with a burst of energy, quickly finding themselves in an advantageous position. NU nabbed five of the opening sets, including No. 4 Hand winning four straight games to go from a 5-3 deficit to winning her opening set 7-5.

The tide began to shift slightly in the second sets. No. 6 Lau dominated her opponent, as she won 6-1, 6-2. No. 2 Leong similarly had an easy victory, prevailing 6-4, 6-0.

Soon after, Hand overcame a 5-3 deficit in a set once again to force a tiebreak against Nebraska’s Isabel Adrover Gallego. In the tiebreak, Hand took care of business, winning a tense match 7-5, 7-6(4) on a winner.

Hand’s victory put ’Cats up 3-1, but each of the remaining three singles matches could have gone either way. All entered a third set. In a back-and-forth match, No. 4 Pratt failed to overcome her first set defeat with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-0 loss.

Leading just 3-2 with two matches still in play, No. 1 Shusharina or No. 5 junior Kiley Rabjohns had to win their match to guarantee the NU victory. Despite being initially up a set and also up a break in the third set, Rabjohns succumbed to Ana Zamburek 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-4.

This left unanimous All-Big Ten Team selection Shusharina to decide the ’Cats’ fate in this match. She found herself in a third set tiebreak after splitting the opening two sets with Lacasse. After stumbling into a 5-2 hole, Shusharina fought back to win the tiebreak 12-10, saving four match points in the process.

Shusharina’s heroics — winning her match 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(10) — led to her teammates storming Court 1 to celebrate advancing to the semifinals. In the semifinals, the Buckeyes (19-6, 10-1 Big Ten) ended NU’s run with a 4-1 triumph over the ’Cats.

Like NU’s quarterfinal match, Saturday’s duel with Ohio States was a mirror of the first contest between the teams from the prior week, where the ’Cats secured the doubles point but failed to win a point throughout singles play.

At the No. 1 doubles spot, Hand and Leong fell 6-2 to Irina Cantos Siemers and Luciana Perry — the No. 31 doubles team in the country. In the matchup that took place between the two teams eight days prior, the result was similar.

NU secured two close victories in the ensuing matches to win the doubles point. The No. 2 pairing of Feldman and Pratt won 7-5 before the No. 3 team in Lau and Shusharina also won 7-5. Lau and Shusharina are now 17-1 together on the season.

Singles play was the polar opposite of doubles play. The ’Cats dropped the first set in all six singles matches, although two of the first sets went to tiebreaks.

No. 2 Leong lost to the nation’s No. 53 player Perry 6-3, 6-0. No. 5 Rabjohns was also dominated, falling 6-0, 6-2.

No. 1 Shusharina lost to Cantos Siemers –– the No. 18 player in the nation –– 6-2, 6-4. The match that concluded play for NU was No. 6 Feldman, who replaced the typical No. 6 Lau in the lineup for the match. Feldman lost 7-6(6), 6-2.

No. 4 Pratt had a 3-0 lead in the opening set, but upon the match’s conclusion, she was losing 6-3, 5-2. The other unfinished match was No. 3 Hand’s, who lost her first set tiebreak and was losing 7-6(3), 3-2 upon the match’s conclusion.

The NCAA will host a selection show for the NCAA Division I women’s tennis championships on Monday afternoon. The ’Cats will host a watch party at 4:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Combe Tennis Center as they eagerly await their name to be called.

Email: [email protected]

X: @CharlieSpungin

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