Tennis duo faces colleges’ best

Daily Illini File Photo

Kate Dougherty

Daily Illini File Photo

By Derek Barichello

The Illini duo of senior Cynthya Goulet and sophomore Emily Wang competed with some of the best players at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-American tournament last week.

The pair finished with a record of 2-2.

No. 44 Goulet and Wang missed the main draw of the tournament last Tuesday, losing in their first match to Lyndsay Shosho and Kelly Anderson of Georgia Tech, 9-8 (3).

In that match, the Illini tandem held a 6-3 lead, but ended up dropping the match in a tiebreaker.

“I got a little excited and got too far ahead of myself,” Wang said. “We should have won that match.”

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After losing their first match, Goulet and Wang competed in the consolation bracket of the tournament on Wednesday.

In the consolation bracket, they came back strong defeating UCLA’s Elizabeth Lumpkin and Laura Gordon and No. 24 Yanick Dullens and Suzana Maksovic of Denver, who held the eighth seed in the tournament.

“All of the teams here are very good,” said Illinois assistant coach JoAnne Russell. “Any win that you’re able to get is positive. In (their first match), Cynthya and Emily made a number of unforced errors at crucial times, and it cost them. The great thing is that they came back and competed well. They didn’t necessarily play their best tennis this afternoon from a physical standpoint, but they played smart. That will carry them a long way this season.”

Goulet and Wang were eliminated from the tournament on Thursday in their fourth match against the 33rd-ranked pair of Nancy Kickott and Julie Smekodub of Tulane, 8-4.

“Cynthya and Emily reverted a little to the way they played on Tuesday,” Russell said. “They made a number of unforced errors, most of them mental. All of the players out here in this tournament are good, but we made the Tulane players look better than they are.”

All in all, the week served as a good learning tool for the doubles team. It was the first appearance in the All-American tournament for Wang, while Goulet competed in the tournament last year with former Illini Jennifer McGaffigan.

“This definitely gave us confidence,” Wang said. “We got to watch a lot of good matches and to think to yourself watching them that ‘I belong here and that’s the reason I’m here,’ that was just a great experience for me.”

The doubles pair, which most likely will play as the No. 1 doubles team for the Illini in the spring season, saw some areas it needs to improve upon if the duo wishes to be successful against other teams’ No. 1 tandems.

“This has been an excellent learning experience for us,” Russell said. “We need to get back to the basics – not to be fancy – but to just play good, solid, consistent, smart tennis.”