Changes made to improve results

By Harini Ganesh

It’s a doubleheader for the women’s tennis team this weekend, as it hosts both Illinois State at 11 a.m. and UIC at 4 p.m. on Saturday at the Atkins Tennis Center.

“We want to get a lot of matches,” head coach Sujay Lama said of playing two teams back-to-back. “It’s an opportunity to try to work on the things we need to.”

Although the women will be playing their fourth and fifth matches of the dual match season, this weekend will be a fresh start for them. The top three doubles teams have been switched around, and practice this week was devoted to playing with new partners and improving their games.

“I feel good about this decision,” Lama said. “They’re really clicking and are showing potential. I’m really pleased.”

Freshman Shivani Dave’ and junior Emily Wang are adjusting to the changes well.

“We played once together in the summer and we did well,” Dave’ said of new partner, sophomore Momei Qu. “We both have the same style and we’re both analytic. I think it’s a good team.”

Wang’s goal is to be as consistent as she can in doubles with sophomore partner Macall Harkins.

“So far it’s looking pretty good,” Wang said. “But I’d like to see how it turns out when we play an actual match.”

Illinois lost 6-1 on the road to No. 19 Tennessee last weekend. Lama decided that it was time to make some changes. Changing the doubles teams was one, picking up on energy and confidence was another.

“I want everybody to step up,” Lama said. “I’d like to see them impose their games and show some life and take it to another level.”

He added that losses sometimes bring doubts, but the goal is to win, get the confidence back and start improving.

Sophomore Anastasia Sokolova is glad to see the changes being made right away, while it is still the beginning of the season.

“We just started out really slow with the doubles,” she said. “From the beginning, we need to take it over right away to give us momentum going into the singles.”

Wang said that the team needs to get in the mode of “expecting to win.” She added that they need to go into every match and wear the other team down.

Lama uses the Western Michigan match as a model for how the team should be on the court. The Illini defeated the Broncos 5-2 after losing the singles point on Jan. 22.

“We were setting the tempo, we were dictating the match,” he said. “That’s how we have to approach every match. They have to just be relentless.”