Losses begin outdoor season

Losses begin outdoor season

By Harini Ganesh

The outdoor season for the women’s tennis team began over spring break, but it was not a success as Illinois lost to No.3 Southern California, Penn State, and No. 35 Indiana last week.

“We knew it was going to be difficult,” head coach Sujay Lama said. “But for our first outdoor match, we played pretty well.”

The Illini went into the matches after a much-needed win against Louisville on March 10. They lost 6-1 to both USC and Indiana. But it was a tough battle against Penn State, losing 4-3 to the Nittany Lions.

“We’re 0-3 in the Big Ten now,” Lama said. “It’s a bit of an uphill battle and we need to do anything and everything to get of the hole.”

Sophomore Alejandra Meza Cuadra and freshman Shivani Dave both lost tough three-setters against Penn State, which could have been deciding matches. Lama said that one of the main reasons the team lost was because the matches were all played on the road and some of the younger players were a bit rattled.

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Despite the losses, Lama pointed out the bright side. Sophomore Macall Harkins won all her singles matches at No.1. Against the USC Trojans, Harkins defeated Amanda Fink, the nation’s No.7 singles player. It was especially good for Harkins, a California native, to beat someone she had played in junior tournaments.

“It was good to play her,” Harkins said. “I grew up playing her and I was just happy to bring out the best in my game.”

Harkins has been working on improving her confidence level throughout the season and felt that she brought that out during her matches.

Lama added that her wins were the highlight of the week.

“She has really gotten better in a short amount of time,” he said.

Although she has been successful in her singles game, Harkins’ doubles results have not been as spectacular. She and junior Emily Wang lost all three doubles matches last week.

“We need to improve our doubles,” she said, including the No’s. 2 and 3 teams. “That would help us start on a good note. If we lose the point, we go into singles 0-1.”

The next match for Illinois is against Ohio State on April 2 at the Atkins Tennis Center.

“We’ve got to improve and play the road matches like we play at home,” Lama said. “We have to be more aggressive, and that’s the difference.”