Illini claim doubles win

By Harini Ganesh

Illinois claimed two more whopping home wins as it defeated both Illinois State and UIC in a back-to-back doubleheader.

The Illini won 6-1 against the Redbirds and didn’t let the UIC Flames win even a single match, taking it all 7-0.

“We played well and a lot of us improved,” senior Brianna Knue said. “We used the matches definitely to win but to also work on some things to do better.”

In both matches the Illini took the doubles point, where the team had lost momentum in previous matches. Head coach Sujay Lama had switched the doubles teams prior to this weekend’s matches and his changes were tested against Illinois State when the women came out strong.

“We definitely had more energy in doubles,” Lama said. “They were gelling. I liked the intensity and the chemistry on all three teams.”

Sophomore Momei Qu partnered up with freshman Shivani Dave’ in doubles. They took both their doubles matches. Qu said she enjoyed playing with Dave’.

“In between each point we’d talk about what our opponents’ strengths and weaknesses are and what we should do better,” she said. “Before, I never did that in doubles. I would just play the best I could. Now I actually think between points.”

Although the Illini defeated Illinois State 6-1, it had been tougher to claim the singles wins. Two of the matches went to a third-set super tiebreak and Lama added that the team wasn’t as crisp in the first match.

“They weren’t in sync and made a lot of unforced errors,” Lama said. “But they found a way to get it done. In the second match I felt they dictated and they hit the ball crisp and that was fun to see.”

Against the UIC Flames, the Illini stepped it up and took the match right from the beginning. They won all their singles matches, completely dominating their opponents. Each player felt that she had improved from the start of the season. Sophomore Alejandra Meza Cuadra was the last to finish her singles match, defeating Christina Oum 6-2, 6-0. Despite winning in straight sets, her games were tough, with Oum battling to stay in the match.

“I felt I was moving well,” she said. “I was trying to be mentally tough and consistent and at the same time be aggressive.”

Next weekend the Illini travel to play two top-25 teams, No. 20 William and Mary and No. 25 Wake Forest. The Illini lost a road match against a top-25 team Jan. 28 at Tennessee. Lama said it’s an opportunity to test all the lessons they’ve learned.

“It’s not going to be easy because they’re not going to hand that over to us,” he said. “I’m hoping they’ve gained some confidence from these two matches and are ready to go out there and really battle hard.”