Illini lose close match, concentrate on positive

Illini lose close match, concentrate on positive

By Harini Ganesh

The Illini women’s tennis team came close but couldn’t grab the win against the No. 35-ranked Mississippi Rebels.

“As a team we played pretty well and with every match we’re improving,” junior Emily Wang said. “It’s frustrating that we lost, but at the same time it’s motivating because it was so close.”

Illinois failed to clinch the doubles point but won one of its doubles matches. Wang and sophomore Macall Harkins defeated the nationally-ranked No. 14 doubles team of Virginia Tomatis and Ilona Somers, 9-8 (4).

“It was a breakthrough,” Wang said of her doubles win. “We figured it out and stayed aggressive.”

Head coach Sujay Lama agreed that their sole doubles win was important.

“The doubles win at No. 1 was huge,” Lama said. “Although we lost the doubles point, it gave us a little bit of momentum going into singles.”

Without the doubles point, the Illini were at a bit of a disadvantage. They had to get four singles matches to clinch the match from the Rebels. Harkins and sophomores Momei Qu and Alejandra Meza Cuadra all clinched singles wins. Wang, senior Brianna Knue, and freshman Shivani Dave’ lost their matches.

Dave’ lost 6-4, 6-0 to Kseniia Tokarieva. The first set, Dave’ said, was more intense because she was fighting for each point. After losing the set, she couldn’t come and fight back.

“Starting the second set I was missing more, making more unforced errors,” she said. “I was getting a little bit down.”

Dave’ added she needed to work on staying consistent and making the points last longer.

Lama said that one must always look at the positives, despite the huge negative of the loss.

“We got so close,” he said. “I think we’re getting closer and closer. But they don’t give you a win if you get close. That’s the whole message here: You’ve got to close it out.”

Wang was the first to lose her singles match. She said she felt she didn’t play that well and intends to try and figure out ways to improve this week at practice.

Despite the loss, Wang feels that it encourages the Illini that they are up there with good teams.

“It came down to a couple of points,” Wang said. “We know we’re a good team. Although the results don’t show that, eventually we’ll be on a roll and win.”