After winning either the Big Ten Tournament or becoming Big Ten regular season champions every year from 1999 to 2014 (achieving both in 9 of those years), Northwestern women’s tennis has gone the last three years without figuring into the title picture. This season a talented group led by 3 top-100 individual players is looking to change that, and they’re off to a good start. With this weekend’s results in the books, the Wildcats are sitting at 10-3, with a 3-0 record in conference play and a 7 match winning streak that includes three victories over current top 6 programs. And with no ranked opponents remaining on the schedule until their last matchup of the regular season (No. 19 Ohio State) the team looks ready to make some noise.
In Friday’s key win over Georgia Tech, Northwestern bounced back with a dominating singles performance after dropping the doubles point on a tiebreaker in the No. 1 match. Inci Ogut, Lee Or, and Maddie Lipp dominated their opponents at No. 5, No. 2, and No. 3 respectively, each winning in straight sets while allowing their opponents no more than 5 total games. Although Alex Chatt dropped her match at No. 4, Julie Byrne provided the finishing touches on Northwestern’s 4-2 win by closing out her opponent in three sets.
After a quick turnaround, the Wildcats were back in action early Saturday afternoon against Purdue. The Boilermakers were unable to take advantage of tired Northwestern legs, however, and the Wildcats dominated. Northwestern took the doubles point and three singles points while dropping only one total set across all matches. This time, Or and Lipp were joined only by Byrne in the victors column, with each of the three closing out their match in straight sets. No. 1 singles player Erin Larner, who didn’t get to finish either of her weekend singles matches, was only one point away from a win of her own when Byrne closed out the match for the Wildcats.
Despite massive historical success within the Big Ten, Northwestern has struggled on a national level, never making it past the quarterfinals. But with a top-5 ranking likely after another dominant weekend, the Wildcats continue to move up the polls. They will hopefully make some serious noise in the postseason.