With a 6-1 win over Penn State and a tight 4-2 win over Ohio State, Northwestern Women’s Tennis has clinched a Big Ten regular season title for the first time since 2012. It’s the first conference title of any variety for the team since 2014, and only one remaining team member, Maddie Lipp (medical redshirt year) was a part of that squad. The Wildcats also capped off their first unbeaten record in conference play since 2009, despite undergoing the longest conference schedule (12 games) that they have ever faced. As they head to the postseason, Northwestern has won 16 of 17, and they are currently ranked #12 in the country, though new rankings come out every Tuesday.
On Friday, Northwestern took the penultimate step towards their goal with a dominating victory over Penn State. Outside of Inci Ogut’s loss at #6, the Wildcats took every set that was played, with Erin Larner, Lipp, Lee Or, Julie Byrne, and Alex Chatt each winning their singles matches in straight sets.
The Buckeyes posed a bit more of the threat in Sunday’s match. After the Wildcats, as they have done in each of their last 11 matches, captured the doubles point, Ohio State took the first set in 4 out of 6 singles matches. Each team got two straight-set victories before Or and Larner, who had pushed their respective matches to a third set after losing the first, both got out to 5-3 leads in the deciding frame. Larner was poised to finish things off, but Or got there first:
Lee Or gets it done! She wins 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 at No. 3 and Northwestern is your undefeated, outright Big Ten champion! pic.twitter.com/Gd73dGFRll— NU Women's Tennis (@NUWildcatTennis) April 22, 2018
This weekend, Northwestern will visit Minneapolis and attempt to add a Big Ten Tournament Championship to their regular season championship for the first time since 2009 (they were able to win both titles for 9 out of 12 years before that). Their first match will be on Friday at 11:30, when they take on the winner of the Thursday matchup between Minnesota and Maryland.
After the Big Ten Tournament concludes, the Wildcats will have a week off before the NCAA tournaments begin. The seeding is still up in the air, but Northwestern will probably be second-best in their region to a team in the 5-8 range for the team competition. Erin Larner will almost certainly qualify for the singles bracket, while Maddie Lipp has only an outside chance of doing the same. Meanwhile, the two seniors will pair up to be one of the highest seeds in the doubles tournament, with Alex Chatt and Lee Or firmly on the bubble for the 32-team bracket.
We will keep you updated on where the Wildcats stand throughout this weekend’s tournament and all the way up to the NCAAs.