Illinois women’s tennis looks for first victory of spring season

Illinois+Madie+Baillon+returns+the+ball+in+a+match+against+Michigan+State+last+April+at+the+Atkins+Tennis+Center.

Daily Illini File Photo

Illinois’ Madie Baillon returns the ball in a match against Michigan State last April at the Atkins Tennis Center.

By Christian Evans , Staff writer

The Illinois women’s tennis team will head to Athens, Georgia, this weekend to face off against Georgia State in the ITA Kickoff Weekend.

Illinois dropped its first two matches of the spring season to Alabama and Washington, but Head Coach Evan Clark still has optimism going forward.

Clark said he’s not thrilled with the start, but that the matches were closer than the score lines indicated. He is proud of his team’s effort.

Senior Madie Baillon was one of the bright spots in the team’s effort against Washington, winning singles and doubles points.

“I really try to focus on my own court,” Baillon said. “I took a lot of my momentum from my doubles match into my singles match, so I felt extremely confident while I was playing.”

Senior Louise Kwong and sophomore Ines Vias lost a doubles match against the No. 35-ranked pair Miki Kobayashi and Nour Abbes, but the duo is staying positive.

“We finally clicked (during) that match,” Kwong said. “Alabama was our first match, and I was injured, so we haven’t really gotten a chance to play a lot of doubles together this season. Then, against Washington, we felt really good, like old times.”

However, for the Illini to click as a whole team and beat Georgia State on Saturday, Head Coach Evan Clark believes a change in clutch play is necessary. He added that the team needs to play its bigger points better, being more offensive.

Baillon added that the Illini’s practices need to translate to their matches.

“I think everybody when they practice has been working hard, playing to their strengths,” Baillon said. “It’s really important that we start taking how we practice into our matches.”

If Illinois defeats both Georgia State and the winner of the New Mexico and Georgia matchup, the team will qualify for National Indoors.

However, Clark wants the team to stay focused on this weekend before thinking ahead.

“Georgia State is a good team; they finished top-40 in the nation last year and are ahead of us in the rankings right now,” Clark said. “So we need to focus on them first.”

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