Women’s tennis looks to spring season

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Daily Illini File Photo

Illinois’s Ines Vias played Michigan State on April 22, 2016. Illini won 4-3.

By Christian Evans, Staff writer

Editor’s note: At the time of publication, Women’s Tennis had completed it’s fall season but has a spring season ahead.

After having its best season since 2012 last year, the Illinois women’s tennis team had high expectations for the 2016-2017 season.

Most notably among those players were sophomore Ines Vias and senior Louise Kwong, who are a nationally ranked doubles pair at 25th.

Kwong and Vias started off their season playing in the Riviera ITA Women’s All-American Championships in California, but both ultimately fell in their prequalifying draw matches.

While the tournament obviously didn’t go as planned, the fact that they both went out there and competed at a national level was good for their and the team’s confidence level to start off the year.

Due to their participation in the championships, Vias and Kwong did not compete in the first event of the fall season for the team, the Purdue Invite.

The rest of the team participated and sophomore Jaclyn Switkes and senior Madie Baillon showed fellow Big Ten foes the well-roundedness of the team. Switkes and Baillon won a doubles flight at the tournament and Switkes also won the single’s flight competition of the Purdue Invite.

Baillon made a point of talking about what her partner brings to the team heading into the spring season.

“Jacyln’s a really big grinder,” she said. “ She gets every ball back, she’s fast, tall and can put those big balls away at the net when she’s given the opportunity.”

Head coach Evan Clark also acknowledged Switkes, mentioning why what she has done so far should translate to the spring season.

“She just always finds a way to win and that’s what we love about her,” Clark said. “Probably one of the best competitors I’ve ever coached and is doing everything the right way.”

In addition to Switkes’ impressive performance at the Purdue Invite, the team also showed promise in the last event before the spring season, the Notre Dame Invite.

Sophomore Daniela Pedraza Novak won both of her singles matches during the tournament, defeating Ladhani of Denver and Fennelly of Notre Dame.

Senior Jerricka Boone and junior Jade Hilton won all three of their doubles matches against Denver, Kansas and Notre Dame.

While the Illini had a successful fall season, Clark is keeping his eyes on the big picture.

“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,” Clark said.

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