Women’s tennis continues hot streak

The No. 33 Illinois women’s tennis team did not let history repeat itself, after downing Marquette 6-1 and grabbing its sixth straight win on Saturday in Milwaukee.

It’s not that the Illini haven’t had a winning record against Marquette. In fact, the Orange and Blue have compiled a 9-1 all-time record against the Golden Eagles.

Rather, Illinois hasn’t had a winning record going into its Big Ten season in the last four years.

Last season, the Illini were 4-4 going entering their first conference match.

The year before was a more unpleasant 2-4 start. With their first conference match around the corner, the win at Marquette (10-5) improves the Illini to 8-2.

“We have a good start to our season,” redshirt sophomore Leigh Finnegan said.

“We have a couple of new players to our team, and they’ve really made a difference. It should be exciting, and I think we have a really good shot at doing well.”

The Illini started strong with wins at all three doubles spots. Each tandem took the early 5-0 lead, but the lead at No. 1 doubles almost slipped away.

Marquette’s duo of freshman Paola Calderon and sophomore Kylie Moore battled back to tie the score at 7-7 against Illinois’ Finnegan and freshman Chelcie Abajian. But the Illini pulled through with an 8-7 victory.

“The difference is when you can win the big points,” head coach Michelle Dasso said.

“We’ve been trying to incorporate different pressure point situations in practice, and today it paid off in that doubles.”

Freshman Amy Allin played her first dual match in three weeks after returning from an ankle injury.

The Golden Eagle’s Moore defeated Allin in the first set, 6-2.

Allin, however, has said she is known as a “slow starter” and took back the second set at No. 5 singles, 6-3, but fell in the super tiebreaker 1-0 (10-5).

The effects of her injury in her loss were questionable, but Allin refused to provide excuses.

“I felt good playing, and my ankle feels good,” Allin said. “I just ran into a good opponent and she played well. I don’t think (my loss) had much to do with my injury.”

At No. 2 singles, two German natives put their winning streaks on the line.

Illinois junior Megan Fudge entered the match 9-0 in singles, and Marquette freshman Olga Fischer was 10-1 with a 10-match winning streak. Fudge came out unblemished with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Fischer, improving to 10-0.

Fudge felt that there was more “tension” playing against another German native.

“The rivalry was a bit bigger, but it was fun,” Fudge said.

“The conditioning is a key part of my game, just being fit on court and outlasting my opponent.

“I feel mentally better. I feel like I know what I’m doing more on the court and just a little more experienced.”

Illinois’ lone senior, Shivani Dave, also remained undefeated (5-0) after beating Marquette’s Robin Metzler, 6-2, 6-3, at the No. 6 singles.

This weekend Illinois squares off against two Big Ten foes, No. 44 Indiana on Saturday at home and then at Purdue on Sunday.

But the Illini find themselves in a better position this season, sitting at No. 33 with a winning record. They have to defend their status.

“This is what we’ve been waiting for so far, being able to kickoff our Big Ten season with our tough opponents in Indiana,” Dasso said.

“They got the best of us, 4-3, last year, so needless to say we’re extremely fired up and ready to get a shot at them.

Hopefully we can get a big crowd out there this weekend with the home court advantage.”