Tennis returns to Florida to face FSU

By Stuart Lieberman

The Illinois women’s tennis team hopes its winter trip to Florida will prove beneficial heading into Sunday’s match against No. 21 Florida State in Tallahassee, Fla.

The Illini have dropped their past two matches, both against ranked opponents, and are still looking for their first win against a ranked team this season.

Head coach Michelle Dasso said the team spent that week in Florida during winter break specifically to prepare for this match.

“It was a huge help,” Dasso said. “We got a full week of outdoor practice. It was invaluable.”

Sunday’s match will be the first of the season for the Seminoles, who went 9-1 at home last season.

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    “It’s not as big of a difference as it could have been,” Dasso said, referring to the Seminoles’ home-court advantage. “I think we narrowed the gap a little bit.”

    Florida State is looking to pick up where they left off last season.

    After finishing the season 16-8, the Seminoles fell in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The program also achieved the highest ranking in its history when it was ranked No. 13.

    The Illini (2-2) have dropped their last three doubles points, and picked up just one win in singles against No. 22 Tennessee last weekend. Dasso said she is going to keep the singles lineup the same, but will change her doubles teams. Those changes have not yet been determined.

    Dasso wants her players to stick to the basics and make their opponents earn their points.

    “If we play aggressive and lose that’s fine,” Dasso said.

    Sophomore Megan Fudge and freshman Marisa Lambropoulos lead the Illini squad with records of 11-5 and 10-8 on the year, respectively.

    Senior Momei Qu and junior Shivani Dave are both 3-1 in dual match play.

    The Illini will hit the court at 10 a.m. on Sunday before returning home on Feb. 8 to host DePaul.