Women's tennis blanks Iowa in Big Ten opener

    In their return to the hard courts of Combe Tennis Center, Northwestern (6-4, 1-0 B1G) opened up the Big Ten season in dominant fashion, beating Iowa (7-1, 0-1 B1G) 7-0. Despite an up-and-down non conference performance, Coach Pollard’s squad appears primed to defend their Big Ten title.

    In doubles, Clarissa Hand, fresh off her second-ever Big Ten Athlete of the Week selection, along with Lee Or crushed Elise van Heuvelen and Adorabol Huckleby 6-0 on Court #1 thanks to a strong service game and well-placed shot selection. Or, in particular, displayed her finesse with two critical drop shots. On Court #2, Julie Byrne and Hannah Mccolgan defeated Samantha Mannix and Michelle Bacalla after taking a quick break point on the first game of the set and then cruising to a 6-1 victory.

    Carol Finke added to the ‘Cats advantage in an impressive 6-0, 6-0 win against Huckleby on Court #5, taking care of her opponent in around an hour. Or similarly began her match with a quick break point before taking a 6-2 first set win against against Ashleigh Jacobs, before fending off a potential comeback after being up 5-0 in the second set to win 6-2, 6-3. #109 Byrne started slowly against van Heuvelen, dropping to 1-3 after the fourth game. The junior turned it around, however, winning five games in a row for a 6-3 first set win, and carried that momentum into the second set. She won a break at 3-1, and eventually the set 6-1 to clinch Northwestern’s sixth victory of the season.

    Court #1 featured a battle of the freshmen between #30 Hand and Mannix. The Iowa product took the first set 4-6 despite Hand coming back from a 3-1 deficit and having lost two break points; Hand, though, double-faulted to give Mannix a decisive 4-5 advantage. Northwestern’s highest-ranked singles player rebounded with a 6-1 second set win, and a 10-6 super tiebreaker victory in the third to claim Northwestern’s fifth win of the night.

    Caroline Pozo also dropped her first set on Court #4, but won her second 6-0 and her supertiebreaker 11-9 after jumping out to a 7-3 advantage. On Court #6, Rheeya Doshi climbed back from a 1-4 first set deficit against Bacalla to send the match to a tiebreak, which she won 7-3. Bacalla won the second set 5-7, before taking the super tiebreaker to complete Northwestern’s sweep.

    Northwestern excelled in all facets of the match, and showed great resolve in rebounding from initial deficits, especially with Byrne, Pozo, and Doshi. The ‘Cats slowed down Iowa’s momentum after the Hawkeyes had won seven matches in a row previously, and are looking to build their own winning streak as Big Ten season begins.

    Catch the ‘Cats this Sunday, February 24, against #20 Pepperdine at 11 a.m. in Combe Tennis Center.


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