Women’s tennis heads to first invite of the season

Daniela+Pedraza+Novak+does+a+nice+overhand+swing+at+the+Atkins+Tennis+Center+on+Febrary+26%2C+2016+against+Northwestern.+Illini+lost+3-4.

Daily Illini File Photo

Daniela Pedraza Novak does a nice overhand swing at the Atkins Tennis Center on Febrary 26, 2016 against Northwestern. Illini lost 3-4.

By Christian Evans, Contributing writer

The Illinois women’s tennis team will play in its first invite of the season Friday at Purdue in West Lafayette, Indiana.

“It’s a flighted tournament and the obvious goal is always to win those,” head coach Evan Clark said. “That’s what makes the fall unique. It’s the one time where it is more individual-based, singles and doubles, where we aren’t playing as a team.”

Senior Alexis Casati will not play in singles due to an injury, but she will still play in doubles competition, where she went 16-6 last year.

“I’m just looking to get back into competition,” Casati said. “It’s the first time we have all competed since April. Having everyone work on what they need to in this fall period will prepare us for the spring.”

Ines Vias and Louise Kwong will not participate at the Purdue invitational because they both competed in doubles play at the ITA Women’s All-American tournament in California this past weekend.

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Instead, Clark will be relying on Casati and sophomore Daniela Pedraza Novak. The two teamed up to go 11-3 in doubles play last year. 

“I think we just complement each other really well,” Casati said. “We have similar personalities and understand each other off the court, which helps us compete better on the court.”

Novak went 20-8 in doubles play overall and 14-13 in singles play last season. 

“I’m really excited about this year because even though last year I did really well, I think there’s room for improvement in my fitness, backhand and my serve, which were all things I had to work on over the summer in preparation for this year,” Novak said.

Clark added that the team “needs to be more disciplined” this season. 

But Novak said the teammates’ relationships with each other are a key strength for the Illini.

“I think we are a family,” she said. “ We are really close and understand each other’s struggles and are supportive of them. Everything starts at a personal level, but in the end, we are always there for each other as teammates.”

With players having the right mindset and familiarity with their opponents, Clark is expecting to do well. 

“Teams like Michigan State, Purdue, Maryland are all quality teams so the competition is very good at this tournament,” Clark said. “But we are one of the better teams and should hopefully be winning some flights.”

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