Women’s tennis suffers tough week at All-American tournament

The Illinois women’s tennis team knew it was going to face tough competition at the 2011 ITA All-American Qualifying Tournament in Pacific Palisades, Calif. and will return home with that feeling confirmed.

The tournament began Tuesday, with junior Rachael White and senior Marisa Lambropoulos playing together for the first time this fall season against the No. 20-ranked pairing of Kate Fuller and Lauren Herring of Georgia.

The Orange and Blue pairing fell 8-1 to a Georgia team that assistant coach Georgia Rose said “did everything well.”

“They definitely exposed our weaknesses and we are leaving this trip with a lot of things to work on,” Rose said.

Despite losing by a wide margin, White said the score didn’t accurately indicate how they played.

“I think the first match was closer than the score was,” she said. “But it was definitely an awakening for our next match together, and it was a good experience to see how the other team plays and how clean they serve the ball.”

Lambropoulos attributed the loss to unforced errors and the discipline of their opponents.

“I think they did a better job of maybe being more disciplined or being more decisive with their shots,” she said. “A couple unforced errors that we hit and a couple points here and there just added up.”

White and Lambropoulos’s match in the consolation bracket the following day was canceled due to rain.

The duo returned to the court Thursday to face an unranked pairing of Misia Krasowski and Jessica Harrow, of Brown. The Illini won 8-4 in a match in which White said they fixed their mistakes.

“We definitely have some work to do, but there were things we were able to step up our game in the next doubles match and fix some of the mistakes we made in the first one,” she said.

White also participated in singles play, which began with a first-round match against the No. 44-ranked Christina Ngo of Georgia Tech. Ngo defeated White 6-4, 6-2.

White continued play in the consolation bracket, but was defeated again, falling to the No. 65-ranked Sonja Molnar of Iowa, 6-3, 7-5.

“I think if I would have been able to make a little less errors then that would’ve helped me,” she said. “Also in pressure situations I could have performed a little bit better, but with more match play that will definitely help me to feel more comfortable in those situations and be able to step up my game when it gets to closer in the match.”

Returning home with just one victory, the Illini know what they need to work on for the ITA Midwest Regionals beginning on Oct. 20.

“We are leaving this trip with a lot of things to work on,” Rose said. “In general, the Georgia team is one of the top teams and they did everything very well. They returned a little better than us and cut down on the unforced errors. Those are the two main things we need to work on before Regionals.”