Illini tennis falls short

By Laura Hettiger

With high hopes heading into the spring break travel throughout Texas, the Fighting Illini women’s tennis team came up short in three of four matches, giving the team a 4-9 record on the year.

The team’s trip began March 19 when the University of Houston slightly edged out the Illini, giving the women a close 4-3 loss. The women then traveled to Austin, Texas, to battle Texas, but the Longhorns easily disposed of Illinois with a 7-0 decision.

Hoping to end the tour of the Lone Star state on a positive note, Illinois sought redemption by winning a rain-delayed match against Texas San-Antonio with a valiant 4-2 score.

“It was a true team effort,” said head coach Michelle Dasso of the win against UTSA. “The girls overcame a lot of adversity, starting their matches outside before having to move indoors due to rain.”

The team did not have much rest after its three Texas matches as the Illini battled Michigan State on Sunday. The Big Ten dual was played outside, giving the girls their first home outdoor match.

In a near four-hour competition, Michigan State squeaked past Illinois in a 5-2 battle. The two points came from No. 2 singles player Momei Qu who defeated MSU’s Stephanie Kebler in two sets and at the No. 6 singles spot with senior captain Emily Wang disposing of Marianne Eelens.

“It was a tough match,” Dasso said. “Overall, I was really proud of the way Emily was able to push through her match and pull it out in the tiebreaker.”

Although the team finished its break 1-3, there were several bright spots throughout the week.

The No. 3 doubles tandem of Qu and freshman Kristina Minor won their fourth-straight doubles match, defeating Houston’s Rebecca Franzi and Vicky Simpson, 8-4.

Megan Fudge, Shivani Dave and Alejandra Meza Cuadra scored a point each as they won in the No. one, three and five singles spots, respectively, during the Houston match.

Doubles were not played against UTSA, which proved to help keep the players energy level high as No. one-through-four singles points were won by Fudge, Qu, Dave and Cuadra en route to defeating the Roadrunners.

The Fighting Illini hope the warm weather continues in order to prepare for its upcoming Big Ten opponents this weekend. Illinois will be on the road as the team faces the Northwestern Wildcats on Saturday.