No. 14 Northwestern women's tennis (23-6, 11-0) saw their season cut short after a crushing 4-0 loss to No. 3 seed Duke (26-3, 13-1) at the round of 16 at the NCAA Championships in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Looking to build off of two dominating displays at the NCAA Regional round against Buffalo and Kansas State, the ‘Cats were never able to find their stride as Duke took a commanding lead and never looked back.
The Wildcats entered the match having won the doubles point each of their past 16 games, but the Blue Devils, led by No. 9 doubles pair Ellyse Hamlin and Kaitlyn McCarthy, won two quick games by identical 6-4 scores, including Hamlin and McCarthy’s win over No. 4 pair Erin Larner and Maddie Lipp, to claim the doubles point.
Duke taking the doubles point snaps Northwestern's streak of winning it in 16 consecutive matches - last time NU dropped the point was against Georgia Tech back on 3/9 https://t.co/EPO54fQKDU— Bobby Knight (@College10s2day) May 17, 2018
Looking to right the ship with singles, Northwestern suffered first set losses in each singles match, putting the team in a deep hole it could never climb out of. No. 84 Hamlin quickly took both sets against Alex Chatt en route to a 6-3, 6-0 victory, and Duke’s No. 55 Meible Chi defeated No. 117 Lee Or, 6-1, 6-4 to give the Blue Devils a dominant 3-0 lead after the first two singles matches.
Needing to force a third set to stay alive, No. 38 Erin Larner took the second set against No. 6 Samantha Harris in No. 1 singles, but Blue Devil Hannah Zhao defeated an in-form Rheeya Joshi, 6-4, 7-5 to give Duke the victory at No. 6 singles after Joshi battled back from a 4-5 deficit in the second set.
Lipp forces a third set at No. 3 and Byrne was a game away from forcing a third set at No. 4, but Duke closes things out with a tough 6-4, 7-5 win at No. 6.— NU Women's Tennis (@NUWildcatTennis) May 17, 2018
Northwestern's season ends with a record of 23-6. A terrific year for the #B1GCats.
The ‘Cats will enter an uncertain offseason, with the departures of Chatt, Larner, and Lipp weighing heavily on a program that dramatically improved from last season’s 15-win squad to take home the Big Ten championship. It remains to be seen how Northwestern will rebound from these losses, and the combined 59 singles and 31 doubles wins that come with them. The Wildcats, and especially this senior class, should take immense pride in breaking 20 wins for the first time since 2014, and in winning the Big Ten regular season title for the first time since 2012.