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Tennis: Women’s and Men’s Teams falter in first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament

It wasn’t written in the cards for either squad this season.

Both Northwestern Tennis teams headed to the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row only to have their seasons cut short ahead of Super Regionals.

Let’s begin with the men, who were able to sneak one round further than the women in their tournament run this year. Arvid Swan’s team defeated its first-round opponent East Tennessee State in dominant fashion. The No. 30 Wildcats took the doubles point thanks to Simen Bratholm and Brian Berdusco along with Trice Pickens and Natan Spear, with both duos winning their respective matches 6-4.

Steve Forman kicked off singles competition with a decisive straight-sets win, followed by two more dubs from Bratholm and Pickens to send the ‘Cats through to the second round on a 4-0 victory.

Things didn’t fare so well for the ‘Cats this time. No. 8 Kentucky was too much for Northwestern right off the bat, with two of its doubles pairings taking the point from Bratholm and Berdusco and Pickens and Spear. Forman snagged an impressive point for NU during singles play, upsetting No. 4 Liam Draxl in straight sets on a 7-2 tiebreaker before Presley Thieneman won his match as well to put the ‘Cats up 2-1.

Nonetheless, the *other* Wildcats from Kentucky downed Bratholm, Pickens and Felix Nordby to earn the three points necessary for them to seal the deal on a 4-2 win. Swan’s squad ended the 2022 season 20-11 going 6-3 in conference play.

Moving on to the women, Claire Pollard’s squad made an early exit against No. 23 Wake Forest, losing in the first round 4-2. The Deamon Deacons bested NU in Athens, Ga., as their No. 5 duo in Anna Brylin and Brooke Killingsworth defeated Clarissa Hand and Maria Shusharina to kick things off. Northwestern’s Sydney Pratt and Hannah McColgan fell 6-3 after a solid fight in their doubles match, but it wasn’t enough to keep WFU from winning the point.

The ‘Cats battled through singles play as well. Junior Christina Hand won her match in the No. 6 spot, defeating Killingsworth in three sets. First-year Pratt emerged victorious as well, upsetting No. 111 Casie Wooten in straight sets and sealing the win on a 7-2 tiebreaker. Unfortunately, Christina Hand and Pratt’s efforts didn’t make up for losses by Clarissa Hand, Ema Lazic and Briana Crowley, affording WFU the three points it needed to seal the win.

NU finished the season at 14-10, going an impressive 8-3 in conference play and an undefeated 8-0 at home. Pollard’s 23rd season at the helm ended on a happier note, though — on May 10, she signed a three-year contract extension keeping her at Northwestern through at least 2026.

Since taking over the head coaching position in 1999, Pollard has an overall record of 490-162, losing only 29 matches against Big Ten opponents and leading the ‘Cats to an NCAA Tournament berth every season sans 2020’s COVID-canceled bout. Success has been the standard during her tenure, and it will continue to be for the next three seasons.