Following a slate of road trips to start off the season, Northwestern returned to Evanston on Sunday for its home opener against Notre Dame.
In a rather convincing fashion, the Wildcats (2-3, 0-0 Big Ten) beat the Fighting Irish 6-1.
“After the last road trip, we were really, really thankful to be home for this weekend,” senior Clarissa Hand said. “It was a great atmosphere. It was a great team win. The crowd was really great … It definitely boosted our confidence as a team.”
NOW got off to a favorable start, grabbing the doubles point behind a pair of wins at the No. 1 and No. 2 spots. Hand and sophomore Maria Shusharina were victorious 6-3, with first-year Sydney Pratt and senior Hannah McColgan also winning 6-2 to secure the early 1-0 lead.
Hand said the mutual understanding of each other’s style of play between her and Shusharina benefits the pair greatly — as evidenced by their two consecutive wins in doubles.
“Our games actually complement each other quite well,” Hand said. “We both know going into a match that we are very confident from the baseline and both of us can set each other up at the net. Having that as our game plan … really sets the tone for the match right from the beginning.”
The Cats carried the momentum into singles, quickly setting the tone behind a 6-0, 6-0 win from graduate student Ema Lazic.
Lazic’s victory propelled NOW in front 2-0, and the Cats never looked back. Hand, who remains the No. 85 ranked singles player, was next in the win column, snagging a 6-3, 6-4 straight sets victory at the No. 1 spot.
“I would say one of my strengths as a tennis player is finding out a way to win,” Hand said. “Based on scouting and a couple of early early games in the first set, I knew how I was going to win the match and just needed to figure out a way to execute that. And I was able to do that decently well.”
While the final quartet of singles matches didn’t end as quickly as its two predecessors, junior Justine Leong was able to earn the fourth point to give NU the win. Pratt and junior Briana Crowley capped off an impressive showing with three set wins, as the Cats dispatched Notre Dame.
NU will look to build off of this win as the Cats play host to Harvard in the Together We Win Game and then Miami-Ohio on Sunday.
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