Illinois women’s tennis cruises past Harvard in home opener

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Photo courtesy of Illini Athletics

Illinois Women’s Tennis Josie Frazier swings the ball back during the game against Harvard on Jan. 20. The Illini won and sweeped Harvard 7-0.

By James Kim, Staff Writer

Illinois women’s tennis returned to Atkins Tennis Center on Thursday to take on Harvard in the first official home matchup of the season.

Playing in front of Illini fans for the first time in two years, the team put on a show in what ended up being a perfect performance. Illinois dominated Harvard in both doubles and singles play, resulting in a 7-0 scoreline by the end of the evening.

“I was pleasantly surprised, certainly didn’t expect to beat Harvard 7-0,” said head coach Evan Clark. “I think Harvard is a really good team with a lot of good players. We weren’t worried about the match, but certainly we thought it was going to be a really tough match going in. I’m just really pleased with how the girls handled themselves and managed the match.”

Illinois started off strong in doubles play. The duo of Megan Heuser and Kate Duong defeated their opponents 6-1, the duo of Emily Casati and Kasia Treiber also recorded a 6-1 victory and these two wins were enough to clinch the doubles point.

At the end of doubles play, however, the Illini were on their way to a 3-0 sweep with Josie Frazier and Ashley Yeah up 4-1 in their match. The score read 1-0 to Illinois heading into singles play. 

The one-sided nature of the competition continued as Illinois won all six singles matches. Duong dominated her matchup, 6-2, 6-1, and Ashley Yeah had a thrilling 6-3, 6-1 win to put the Illini one win away from clinching the match.

Frazier earned a hard-fought 6-3, 6-1 victory; Heuser battled out a 6-4, 6-2 win; Treiber handled her opponent with ease, 6-0, 6-2; and finally Kida Ferrari finished off her opponent 6-2, 6-3. Illinois didn’t drop a single point and beat a good Harvard side, 7-0.

The Illini support was in full swing during the matches, and there were many cheering on Yeah during her exciting singles victory.

“It was exciting, especially since we haven’t had a home match indoors with a crowd since 2020,” Yeah said. “It’s definitely great to be back after more than a year without fans.”

It was also a very happy return for Frazier, who celebrated her birthday with a strong performance back at Atkins.

“The last time we were here was two years ago,” Frazier said. “Obviously last year we were playing and we didn’t get any fans, so we came today really excited. We had a nice crowd, and it was my birthday, so it was really fun.”

Frazier was initially down in the first set, 3-1, but showed her resilience and fought back to win it 6-3.

“I just tried to stick with it,” Frazier said. “It gave me a lot of confidence knowing that I could come back from being down like that.”

Illinois (2-1) will be back in action at Atkins on Sunday for a doubleheader. The team will take on Eastern Illinois at 10 a.m. and Northern Illinois at 1 p.m.

“It’ll be a tough day,” Clark said. “Two matches in one day is something we only do occasionally. We’ll see how our fitness is, as it’ll be two good teams coming in who love to play us. They’ll get up for us, so we’ll need our best stuff on Sunday.”

 

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