Women’s tennis opens season at Michigan

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Daily Illini File Photo

By Derek Barichello

When the Illini women’s tennis team travels to Kalamazoo, Mich. on Friday to play in the Bronco Invitational, the goal will be simple – have fun and improve.

In the fall season, players compete against each other in tournaments rather than in the spring season when competition is between teams.

Schools competing in the Bronco Invitational include host Western Michigan, Big Ten foe Indiana, spring opponents Marquette and Illinois-Chicago, as well as Eastern Michigan and Ball State.

“We have a young and talented group this year,” said Illinois head coach Sujay Lama. “We are excited to get the season started this weekend. Our goal is to have fun and improve with each match.”

Lama believes the Bronco Invitational will help his team get a feel for where it ranks among the rest of the competition.

“The players are very eager to compete and measure their games with some of the best players in the Midwest,” Lama said. “This will also be an opportunity to evaluate where they are and get a clear idea on what they need to work on.”

In last season’s Bronco Invitational, the Illini finished with a record of 22-10 in singles play and 13-3 in doubles. Jennifer McGaffigan and Isabel Jarosz won the Flight A and B singles titles, respectively.

This season, the Illini will be without both of them. McGaffigan graduated and Jarosz decided not to come back for her sophomore year of eligibility. Tiffany Eklov and Eva Choe, both spring 2004 graduates, join McGaffigan and Jarosz as the four Illini that did not return from last year.

The Illini are led by senior Cynthya Goulet, who is ranked No. 110 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association singles rankings and ranked No. 44 along with sophomore Emily Wang in doubles.

Senior Leila Cehajic and juniors Brianna Knue and Pavlina Akritas join Goulet and Wang on the team. Elizabeth Dolan, Macall Harkins, Momei Qu and Anastasia Sokolova are the four newcomers for the Illini.