Unsuccessful road trip leaves team, player goals unfulfilled

Shivania Dave serves the ball during a doubles match against Wisconsin at the Atkins Tennis Center on April 16. Dave and her teammate, Brianna Knue, won the doubles match, 8-5. Beck Diefenbach

Shivania Dave serves the ball during a doubles match against Wisconsin at the Atkins Tennis Center on April 16. Dave and her teammate, Brianna Knue, won the doubles match, 8-5. Beck Diefenbach

By Harini Ganesh

Illinois’ women’s tennis team suffered two defeats on the road this weekend as it lost 5-2 against both Minnesota and No.30 Iowa.

“We didn’t play well at all against Minnesota,” Illinois head coach Sujay Lama said. “A couple kids got down on themselves and it got out of control.”

The Illini lost the doubles point in both matches and Lama said that it might have contributed to the loss against Minnesota. The plan of competing hard and giving the best effort failed against the Gophers as only two players won their singles matches and the others were unsuccessful.

Freshman Shivani Dave’ said that against Minnesota everything the team had been focusing on for the past three weeks did not get fulfilled.

“We were on the negative side,” she said. “We were not trying to do what (Lama) was telling us.”

Lama echoed this sentiment about his team’s performance against Minnesota.

“It was disappointing because we had been competing really well,” Lama said. “But the good news is we played better against Iowa – a much better team.”

Although the Illini lost to the Hawkeyes, Lama saw his players put forth their best effort on the court. He added that the team has improved and is now looking forward to the Big Ten Tournament, which will be held in Champaign from April 27-30.

For some players, the tournament is a chance to get back on track. Sophomore Macall Harkins, who was named the Big Ten Player of the Week on April 19, suffered a setback this weekend. Her nine-match winning streak was snapped on Saturday when she lost to Minnesota’s Nischela Reddy, 1-6, 7-6(6), 6-1.

“I didn’t want to lose,” Harkins said. “I played (Reddy) in the fall and I wanted to beat her, but I didn’t have my best game that day.”

It was a learning experience for Harkins to stay positive while playing and not let her mental strength be affected, she said. She did, however, play a better game against Iowa’s No.41 Meg Racette, but lost 7-5, 6-4.

“I have to remind myself I’m a good player,” she said. “I’ve got to be positive.”

While Harkins lost at the No.1 singles position, Dave’ claimed one singles win against Iowa’s Kayla Berry at No.5 singles, 7-6(5), 6-2.

“The match definitely gave me a lot more confidence,” she said. “It has given me some momentum going into the Big Ten tournament.”

Lama’s goal for the tournament is to have everyone stay on the same page and pull through in their matches.

“There hasn’t been one single time we’ve all played well at the same time,” Lama said, “so let’s put it all together at the Big Ten tournament.”