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Tennis: Women’s and Men’s Teams Stumble in First and Second Rounds of the NCAA Tournament

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Both Northwestern Tennis teams entered the NCAA tournament for the second year in a row to shorten their Super Regionals seasons.

Let’s start with the men, who managed to sneak a lap ahead of the women in their tournament run this year. The Arvid Swans team dominantly defeated its opponent in the first round of East Tennessee State. The No. 30 Wildcats took the double 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 the 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 win.

Things didn’t go so well for the Cats this time. Number 8 Kentucky was immediately too much for Northwestern, with two of its double pairs taking over from Bratholm and Berdusco and Pickens and Spear. Forman took an impressive run for NU in singles, which upset number 4 Liam Draxl in straight sets after a 7-2 tiebreak before Presley Thieneman also won his match to give the Cats a 2-1 lead.

Nevertheless, the *other* Kentucky Wildcats defeated Bratholm, Pickens and Felix Nordby to earn the three points it took to close the deal on a 4-2 win. Swans’ team finished the 2022 season 20-11 6-3 in conference play.

Moving to the women’s, Claire Pollards squad made an early exit against No. 23 Wake Forest, losing 4-2 in the first round. The Deamon Deacons defeated NOW in Athens, Georgia, when their No. 5 duo in Anna Brylin and Brooke Killingsworth defeated Clarissa Hand and Maria Shusharina to get things started. Northwesterns Sydney Pratt and Hannah McColgan fell 6-3 after a solid fight in their doubles, but it wasn’t enough to stop WFU winning the run.

The Cats also fought through singles. Junior Christina Hand won her match in number 6, beating Killingsworth in three sets. Freshman Pratt also emerged victorious, upset number 111 Casie Wooten in straight sets and sealed the win with a 7-2 tiebreak. Unfortunately, the efforts of Christina Hand and Pratts didn’t make up for the losses of Clarissa Hand, Ema Lazic and Briana Crowley, giving WFU the three points it needed to seal the win.

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

Since taking over as head coach in 1999, Pollard has an overall record of 490-162, losing just 29 games against Big Ten opponents and leading the Cats to an NCAA Tournament berth each season with no 2020s COVID canceled game. Success was the standard during her tenure, and will remain so for the next three seasons.

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