In a thoroughly dominant weekend at the Combe Tennis Center, Northwestern Women’s Tennis (17-4, 10-0 B1G) took down the Wisconsin Badgers (8-13, 2-7 B1G) and the Minnesota Gophers (13-9, 5-3 B1G). With the wins the Wildcats remain ahead of Michigan (12-9, 8-1 B1G) atop the Big Ten regular season standings.
The Wisconsin match ended in a 7-0 sweep. On the doubles side, the fourth-ranked duo of Erin Larner and Maddie Lipp won a number of key points in tightly contested games to take the set, 6-3. NU’s Julie Byrne and Rheeya Doshi then squeezed by River Hart and Caroline Ryba, 7-5, to clinch the doubles point.
On the singles side, the Wildcats simply demonstrated their superiority, sweeping the field. Julie Byrne was the first to finish, making easy work of the Badgers’ Melissa Pick, 6-0, 6-2. That was followed shortly after by a 6-2, 6-2 win from junior Lee Or. Then Larner, four-time Big Ten Player of the Week and ranked 35th in the nation, continued her dominant season, topping Lexi Keberle 6-3, 6-2 to put Northwestern up 4-0 and clinch the match.
Maddie Lipp, Inci Ogut and Alexandria Chatt closed out the shutout for Northwestern, with Chatt triumphing in a third-set tiebreaker.
On Sunday’s Senior Day, the Wildcats ended their home schedule in style, toppling Minnesota by a score of 6-1. After seniors Larner and Lipp cruised to an undramatic 6-0 victory, Byrne/Doshi and Chatt/Or both found themselves in 5-5 sets. At No. 3 Byrne/Doshi got the decisive break to win 7-5 and clinch the point.
Unsurprisingly, Northwestern also put up a strong performance on the singles side. Larner made quick work of the Gophers’ Caroline Ryba (6-1,6-1) to continue her undefeated Big Ten singles season (Big Ten Player of the Year, anyone?). That was followed by wins from Or (6-3, 6-1) and Byrne (6-2, 6-2) to clinch the match.
The rest of the match, though irrelevant to the overall result, featured some great tennis. Ogut defeated a persistent Caitlyn Merzbacher 6-4, 6-4, finishing her off with this forehand winner down the line:
Minnesota got on the board - and Northwestern surrendered their only point of the weekend, when Cammy Frei secured key breaks to beat Alex Chatt, also by a score of 6-4, 6-4. Last but not least, Lipp won a three-set thriller over Tina Kreinis, 6-1, 5-7, 1-0 (10-8) to send Northwestern home on a high note.
The chase for a Big Ten championship continues at Penn State at 3 pm on Friday. The Wildcats will clinch a share of the title with a win, adding some hardware to an already-impressive season.