Busy weekends continue for Illini

By Laura Hettiger

Every weekend this spring season has been a busy weekend for the Illinois women’s tennis team. Whether the women are enduring grueling practices, intense away matches or playing opponents at home, they have been very busy on Saturdays and Sundays.

This Easter weekend is no different as Big Ten conference opponents Penn State and Michigan are both coming to town.

To ensure the momentum and intensity level for the Illini is high heading into the singles portion of the matches, the team has been working vigorously on coming out strong from the beginning.

“Capturing the doubles point continues to be an area of concern for us this season, so we’ve really made it our number one focus in practice,” head coach Michelle Dasso said. “We are determined to get the doubles point this weekend and start off strong.”

Winning the doubles point makes it less stressful heading into singles play, as the team already enjoys a one-point cushion. When Illinois played Wisconsin on Sunday, April 1, they did not secure the doubles point, but still had the drive to eventually defeat the Badgers 4-3.

The Nittany Lions are coming off a disappointing loss to Minnesota as Penn State nearly defeated the No. 53 Golden Gophers. With a Big Ten record of 1-4, Penn State saw wins in the one-through-three singles spots before the Gophers rallied to beat the Nittany Lions 4-3.

Between the doubles and singles portion on Saturday, while Penn State and Illinois both take a break, there will be a cookout the fans are invited to participate in while supplies last. Then on Sunday, at the same doubles and singles break, the annual Illini tennis Easter Egg Hunt will take place.

Illinois’ Sunday opponent, Michigan, has had a much more successful year than Penn State and boasts a conference record of 4-1, trailing only the first place and No. 10 Northwestern Wildcats. Heading into their contest, Michigan leads the series over Illinois with a 19-11 record, but since the 2000 season, the Illini have defeated the Wolverines four out of seven times.

Illinois is currently 5-10 overall and has a 1-3 record against conference opponents. Both matches are slated to begin at noon at Atkins Tennis Center.