Despite win streak, Illinois women’s tennis falls short of NCAAs

By Jonathan Joffe

After finishing last season just a single win shy of the NCAA tournament, the Illinois women’s tennis team entered the spring with postseason hopes in mind.

The team boasted a 7-4 record heading into spring break but lost all five matches during that week to come out of the break at 7-9. LB

Nevertheless, the Illini responded.

Illinois went on to win its next seven matches and closed out the regular season on a high note.

Despite their hot streak, the Illini lost in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament to rival Northwestern and ultimately failed to meet their goal of making it to the NCAA tournament. The team ended the season with a 14-10 mark and a 6-5 record in the Big Ten. It was the second-straight year the Illini finished 14-10 overall. LB 

Not making it to NCAA tournament play was just one let down amongst many team and individual achievements according to head coach Michelle Dasso.

“One goal was to come together as a family and get better as tennis players throughout the year, and that was met,” Dasso said. “Another goal was to have at least two players named All-Big Ten team, and that was met.”

While Dasso admitted that her team fell short of its goal of making the NCAA tournament, she applauded her squad for excelling in the classroom and in the community, reaching goals in those areas.

Dasso said that her team had many goals heading in to the season, and she knew that reaching all of them would not be easy.

“Not playing in the NCAA team tourney simply hurts, but we are also proud of our girl’s efforts on many different levels,” Dasso said.

Her player’s team chemistry and determination — especially after spring break — impressed Dasso the most during the season.

Sophomore Louise Kwong mirrored that statement by her coach. For Kwong, however, her competitive nature led her to say that her team ultimately fell short of its goals.

While she acknowledged the achievements that Dasso touched upon, failing to meet the NCAA tournament was a huge disappointment for Kwong. But the sophomore expressed hope about next season — the team graduates seniors Melissa Kopinski and Julia Jamieson and brings in three freshmen.

“I’m very excited about our new team and the three freshmen coming in,” Kwong said. “I can’t wait to be an upperclassmen and be able to help lead the team.”

Next year’s upperclassmen will be headlined by Kwong and fellow current sophomore Alexis Casati.

“I’m most excited to see the leadership and experience of my junior class,” Dasso said. “They are fun individuals to work with because of their determination and personality.”

Both Dasso and Kwong also spoke highly of the team’s new assistant coach Evan Clark and attributed much of the team’s success to his efforts.

Despite not making the NCAA tournament this year, Dasso and Kwong equally believe that the future is bright for the Illini.

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