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Women’s tennis: ‘Cats start slow, then catch fire to begin 2022 season

After losing its first two matches of the season, Northwestern is steadily improving.

After getting its season started with a 5-2 loss at Vanderbilt on January 23, Northwestern women’s tennis sits at 4-3 through its first seven matches. In their two most recent matches, the ‘Cats have defeated both Harvard and Miami of Ohio by a score of 7-0.

In their opening match against Vanderbilt, the Wildcats won two of the six singles matches that took place, along with one of the three doubles matches. Graduate student Ema Lazic landed her first singles win as a Wildcat when she defeated Vanderbilt’s Amy Stevens by a score of 6-3, 6-2. On top of that, first-year Sydney Pratt landed her first singles victory as a Wildcat as well when she took down Marcella Cruz in a 6-4, 7-5 decision.

After their defeat at the hands of the Commodores, Northwestern returned home to take on Wake Forest and Penn State on January 29 and January 30 as a part of ITA Indoor Qualifying. By the end of the weekend, the ‘Cats had split the two matches, falling to Wake Forest 4-2 but defeating Penn State 4-3. Of note, NU senior Clarissa Hand knocked off Wake Forest’s No. 35-ranked Carolyn Campana, pulling off an upset despite the team’s loss.

Following the ITA Qualifying, the ‘Cats travelled down to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech, where NU dropped another close match to the Yellow Jackets by a final match score of 4-3. The Wildcats jumped out to an early lead over GT thanks to doubles victories by Justine Leong and Christina Hand as well as Clarissa Hand and Maria Shusharina. However, NU then dropped multiple singles matches.

After the team’s defeat in Atlanta, the ‘Cats returned home for a series against Notre Dame, which they won handily 6-1. The Irish came into this series with a 6-2 record and victories over Colorado, Purdue and Michigan State. Regardless, Northwestern gave up just one pairing to ND in this match when Shusharina was defeated by Paige Freeman by a score of 6-4, 0-6, 4-6.

The Wildcats then had a week off before returning to play in Evanston to take on Harvard and Miami of Ohio on February 20. As previously mentioned, the ‘Cats defeated both of these teams by scores of 7-0. The Crimson and the Redhawks were no slouches, as Northwestern dropped the former to 5-3 on the season and the latter to 4-3. Shusharina, Lazic, Pratt, Brianna Crowley and Christina Hand all went 2-0 in singles on the day while Clarissa Hand and Hannah McGolgan went 1-0.

With the majority of its nonconference slate wrapped up, Northwestern now has a bit of a break before it travels to Manhattan, Kansas, to take on Kansas State on March 5. The following day, NU will face off against the University of Kansas.