Claire Pollard has been here before.
In her 20 seasons as Northwestern’s head women’s tennis coach, Pollard and the Wildcats have advanced to the NCAA Tournament round of 16 on 14 occasions. That’s where the Wildcats find themselves now, but Northwestern has only advanced to the quarterfinals three times in Pollard’s tenure.
Northwestern will get all it can handle from No. 3 Duke on Thursday morning in Winston-Salem, N.C.
The Blue Devils (25-3) coasted past Furman and Oregon to advance to the round of 16. Duke features two of the top ten doubles teams in the country, as well as five ranked singles players.
Northwestern’s No. 1 doubles team of Erin Larner and Maddie Lipp are ranked three spots higher than Duke’s No. 1 pairing of Samantha Harris and Kelly Chen, but Harris and Chen have only lost three times all season. Moreover, Duke’s No. 2 pairing of Ellyse Hamlin and Kaitlin McCarthy is ranked No. 12 and have only dropped seven matches all year.
Duke and Northwestern matched up twice last season, with the Blue Devils pulling off 4-3 wins in both matches. The winner will advance to play the winner of the Texas/Texas Tech matchup.
Thursday’s match is at 8 a.m. EST and will be broadcast live at http://www.wakeforestsports.com/ncaatennis/.