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ND Women’s Tennis

Notre Dame returns home for matinee with Northwestern

| Thursday, February 9, 2023

The Fighting Irish women’s tennis team has been away from South Bend for each of the last two weekends, playing in Athens, Georgia and Champaign, Illinois. On Saturday, Notre Dame (6-1) will come home to Eck Tennis Pavilion for a battle with Northwestern (3-3). The Wildcats have topped the Irish twice in the past three seasons, including last year’s 6-1 defeat in Evanston.

Notre Dame enters the weekend having recently bested another team from the Land of Lincoln. The Irish went on the road to Illinois Sunday and started fast to earn a 4-3 victory. Though the Fighting Illini secured the day’s first doubles match, Notre Dame’s second and third doubles teams turned in wins to take an overall 1-0 lead. Junior Julia Andreach and sophomore Carrie Beckman earned a 6-2 win, while freshman Rylie Hanford and junior Yashna Yellayi triumphed at 6-3. Illinois briefly evened the score at one in singles play, but Notre Dame quickly erased any doubt. Senior Page Freeman dominated No. 1 singles (6-2, 6-3), restoring the lead. Then, Freshmen Bojana Pozder and Akari Matsuno grabbed two-set victories to clinch the Irish victory. Already up 4-1, Notre Dame dropped the final two singles matches, but walked away with a 4-3 win in the books.

Three weeks in, Notre Dame is off to a 6-1 start for the first time since the 2016-17 season. In doubles play, the Andreach-Beckman and Hanford-Yellayi teams hold a combined record of 11-1. On the singles side, Pozder (5-1) and Matsuno (5-0) have dominated in the No. 5 and No. 6 positions. Freeman has excelled in No. 1 singles as well, playing to a 4-1 mark thus far.

As a program, Northwestern has appeared in 26 consecutive NCAA tournaments. The Wildcats are 3-3 to open the season, having lost three of their last four matches. Claire Pollard’s team traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia for its ITA Kickoff Weekend, splitting with South Carolina and Washington State. The ‘Cats also fell to No. 9 Vanderbilt at home on Jan. 21. Most recently, they dropped 5-2 to Georgia Tech Sunday after struggling in singles play. 

According to Wednesday’s ITA Collegiate Tennis Rankings, Northwestern’s doubles team of senior Christina Hand and sophomore Justine Leong are 42nd in the nation. The two have opened the season with a 5-1 record. Hand also ranks 74th as a singles player, where she is 3-3 to this point. Like Notre Dame, Northwestern has benefited from the play from its No. 5 and No. 6 singles positions. Senior Briana Crowley and sophomore Kiley Rabjohns own an 8-3 combined record, working primarily in those roles.

Saturday’s match will begin with doubles play at 12:00 p.m. ET. The action will be available on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish YouTube channel. The Irish will conclude February with five more home games thereafter, including the Feb. 24 ACC opener.

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