Illinois women’s tennis prepares for final fall match


Austin Yattoni

Illinois’ Louise Kwong gets ready to return the ball during her singles match against Purdue’s Nicole Robinson during the match at the Atkins Tennis Center on Sunday, April 10. Kwong won her singles match 2-6, 6-1, 6-4, and the team deafeated Purdue 5-2.

By Christian Evans, Contributing writer

The Illinois women’s tennis team will compete in its final match before spring play when it travels to South Bend, Indiana, this weekend to compete in the Notre Dame Invite.

Head coach Evan Clark said that the team hopes to establish momentum to prepare itself for Big Ten play.

“We played really well (in last year’s Midwest Blast) and had a good taste in our mouth leaving the fall season,” Clark said. “This year, I think we have gotten a little better in each tournament, and this is what the whole idea of the fall has been, making progress each week and spring boarding into the spring season.”

The team is in even better position than it was last year. 

In last week’s ITA Midwest Regional, the Illini had two singles pairs reach the round of 16 as opposed to one last year in the Midwest Blast. Two doubles reached the round of 16 and another reached the semifinals this season. 

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Senior Louise Kwong and sophomore Ines Vias advanced to the semifinals. It was the first time the Illini have done this since 2012.

“It gives us a lot more confidence than we had before,” Kwong said. “It’s good knowing that we can compete with some of the top teams in the Big Ten. We could’ve won the tournament, and it was just a matter of points, but we know we are right up there.”

Along with Kwong and Vias reaching the semifinals, sophomore Daniela Pedraza Novak and senior Alexis Casati reached the round of 16 as a 13-16 seed. This is the duo’s first time being seeded. 

“We were in a good position to start the tournament and had a great couple matches at the beginning,” Novak said. “We had a great match (against No. 5 Michigan), so I think the tournament went well.”

Novak also started off in the qualifying round for singles but won four matches in a row to reach the round of 32. She was in the same position last year after winning all her qualifying matches but lost in the first round.

“Coming in, I knew what I had to work on,” Novak said. “I was mentally and physically ready this time.”

The Illini’s fall matches are more individualistic compared to spring play. Clark said that the Notre Dame Invite is more like a spring match. The team will play doubles versus a team for three matches and singles for six matches, which Clark calls a ‘hidden dual.’

 It gets us ready and is an easier format to digest than in the fall,” Clark said. 

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