Illini net success in first tournament

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By Harini Ganesh

The Illini women’s tennis team competed in its first tournament of the fall season in Michigan State’s Spartan Cup Invitational this weekend.

“The last three weeks we’ve just been practicing our strokes,” sophomore Momei Qu said. “This is a chance for us to show what we’ve accomplished and see where we are with the other schools.”

The team was actually supposed to be in Houston, playing at Rice University, but threats of Hurricane Rita cancelled that plan. They instead filled an opening in the Michigan State tournament and were grateful to get a chance to play.

“These kids have really worked hard,” head coach Sujay Lama said. “They’ve improved physically and worked hard tennis-wise, but at the same time where you really see improvement is where you see weaknesses in a tournament.”

Going in with a fairly young team, Lama said the main thing was to not worry about results and focus more on setting performance goals for the rest of the season. This weekend he got exactly that.

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“I’m pretty pleased with the performance,” he said. “For the first tournament I think they looked pretty good.”

Qu and sophomore Macall Harkins reached the semifinals of the Flight “A” singles tournament. Qu lost to Christine Bader of Michigan State in straight, but close, sets, 7-5, 7-6. Harkins lost to the eventual champion Maria Klokotzky of Louisville, 7-5, 6-0.

“I’m just excited to get to play matches, and just travel with the team,” Harkins said, who had missed out on playing over the summer due to injuries.

Harkins teamed up with senior Brianna Knue in the Flight “A” doubles, reaching the semifinals and losing to Klokotzky and Robyn White. The same Louisville duo defeated Qu and junior Emily Wang in the final, 8-3.

In flight “B” matches, senior Pavlina Akritas advanced to the semifinals before losing to Jessica Baron of MSU in three sets, 4-6, 6-0, 6-1. Freshman Shivani Dave’ and sophomore Alejandra Meza Cuadra lost in the quarterfinals of the singles tournament, but won the doubles consolation finals by default.

Although many matches were close, Lama was satisfied with the results of the team’s first tournament.

“I would say we were lucky to play in this tournament,” Lama said, referencing to the Hurricane Rita circumstances. “But we got exactly what we wanted: success and matches.”