Illinois women’s tennis to take on Texas Tech and SLU in Friday doubleheader

Illinois+Ines+Vias+gets+ready+to+return+a+ball+against+Middle+Tennessee+at+Atkins+Tennis+Center+on+Friday%2C+Feb.+10.+The+Illini+won+6-1.

Austin Yattoni

Illinois’ Ines Vias gets ready to return a ball against Middle Tennessee at Atkins Tennis Center on Friday, Feb. 10. The Illini won 6-1.

By Christian Evans, Staff writer

After a big win against Florida State, the Illinois women’s tennis team is coming back to Atkins Tennis Center to play Texas Tech and Saint Louis this weekend.

Against Florida State, the team struck first with the doubles point. The doubles point will be a deciding factor this weekend.

Texas Tech (12-3) is No.7 in the nation, on a five-game winning streak and has the No. 24 doubles pair in Sabrina Federici and Sarah Dvorak.

Illinois head coach Evan Clark said the Illini need to repeat their energetic performance from the Florida State match.

“We got to get the energy right again, “ Clark said. “We challenged them to do so against Florida State and you saw the results. We worked on it again in practice today and I have no doubt in mind that we’ll have that type of effort again for Texas Tech.”

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
Thank you for subscribing!

Senior Louise Kwong and sophomore Ines Vias lived up to that challenge Friday, winning their first doubles match 6-0.

Vias says they are looking forward to progressing their play against Texas Tech.

“It was a long time coming,” Vias said. “We were in a little slump, but with that Florida State win we have to take it and progress, using it as momentum in other doubles match, not just against Texas Tech, but all the other opponents we having coming up.”

Kwong won Big Ten Player of the Week this week , for the second time in her career.

She went 2-0 last week and delivered the clinching point for the match against Florida State.

Kwong says for the team to beat Texas Tech, it needs to remain focused.

“We need to have the same mindset coming in,” Kwong said. “We have nothing to lose, with only a couple more matches together. We have to play free and like we belong on the court.”

The Illini have come close to beating several top teams, but have fallen short in each effort.

“I think we gotta play the big points well,” Clark said. “We did a great job against Florida State on deuce points and closing out sets, so I think that will be a really important piece to the puzzle in beating a top team like Texas Tech.”

Illinois also plays Saint Louis on Friday at 6 p.m. after its match against Texas Tech.

Saint Louis (9-6) is on a four-game winning streak and senior Eleonore Tchakarova was named Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Week for Feb. 27-March 5.

The Billikens have also had three shutouts in their last four matches.

Clark says the biggest challenge will be managing their energy against Texas Tech in the 2 p.m. match so they have enough left for Saint Louis.

“Saint Louis is a good team,” Clark said. “They’ve played a lot of tough teams this year as well. We will need our best effort for them. But I think the biggest thing will be managing our energy after we play Texas Tech and making sure we are coming out ready to go.”

Sophomore Jaclyn Switches is looking for the team to step up to the task on Friday.

“We need to take advantage of this opportunity,” Switkes said. “We do not get to play a lot of the top teams and these are at home. We need to go after our shots and avoid playing tentative.”

[email protected]

@cevans619