Illinois women’s tennis not overlooking Middle Tennessee

Illinois+Jaclyn+Switkes+strikes+back+the+ball+in+the+match+against+Michigan+State+on+April+22+2016.

The Daily Illini File Photo

Illinois’ Jaclyn Switkes strikes back the ball in the match against Michigan State on April 22 2016.

By Christian Evans, Staff writer

The Illinois women’s tennis team is coming off two losses against top-15 teams in the nation. The team will play this weekend against a Middle Tennessee team that is unranked, just like the Illini.

Head coach Evan Clark said to get a win against Middle Tennessee, the team will have to execute its goal of closing out sets better than it has been doing.

Clark said that his team has been going over late-game situations during practices this week.

“We tried to play live points with scenarios,” Clark said. “Giving them scenarios like they would find in the match as realistically as we could (was our goal). (We tried) getting them up 5-3 or 5-4 and trying to simulate what they would feel in the match. It’s tough to do in practice, but at least they start thinking that way.”

Middle Tennessee is a young team. Five of its seven players are freshmen or sophomores.

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“I think our team is kind of the opposite (of Middle Tennessee),” Clark said. “We are all veterans for the most part. Everyone has played at least a year, and we have four seniors so I think that will help.”

Sophomore Ines Vias played against Auburn’s No. 25 doubles pair last weekend, and she believes that experience can help she and her partner, senior Louise Kwong, down the road.

“We have goals,” Vias said. “We want to make the NCAA tournament, and we want to have a banner up there. So I think playing against good teams and taking advantage of that just gives us more opportunity to get higher in the rankings.”

Sophomore Daniela Pedraza Novak says that she is in a good position to help the team break its current skid.

“Freshmen are inexperienced, but they have nothing to lose,” Pedraza Novak said. “They don’t know who they are playing against so, they have nothing to fear, and sometimes that can be helpful. I can take advantage of all the experience I had this past year and my freshman year, so I should be in good position.”

The Illini are also increasing their chances by not overlooking Middle Tennessee just because of its 1-3 record.

“Middle Tennessee is still pretty good,” Clark said. “Obviously they aren’t the caliber of Auburn or Georgia, but I think we got to go out and treat it as if it was a match like that.”

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