Illinois gets knocked out of Big Ten tournament after Michigan loss

Sophomores+Ashley+Yeah+and+Josie+Frazier+celebrate+after+scoring+against+Minnesota+on+April+9.+The+teams+season+is+over+after+a+lost+against+Michigan+in+the+Big+Ten+Tournament.

Angel Saldivar

Sophomores Ashley Yeah and Josie Frazier celebrate after scoring against Minnesota on April 9. The team’s season is over after a lost against Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament.

By Will Payne, Assistant Sports Editor

All good things must come to an end, and this statement sadly rang true for the Illini on Friday morning. The women’s tennis team was sent home by the No. 2 seed Michigan in the third round of the Big Ten tournament. 

The No. 7 seed Illini began their tournament run on Thursday against the No. 10 seed Purdue Boilermakers. During the regular season, Illinois won both matchups against Purdue by scores of 4-3 and 4-1.

After the huge upset win to cap off the regular season against Northwestern, confidence was at an all time high. Illinois went into their opening matches of the tournament looking to take care of business.

The Illini came out the gates strong in the doubles matches, as teams of Asuka Kawai and Josie Frazier, along with Kate Duong and Ashley Yeah helped to secure the point for the team.

Moving onto singles, Illinois got wins from Josie Frazier and Sasha Belaya, which meant they needed one win out of three matches to secure the victory. After Purdue won two intense matches on courts two and three, it was all down to senior Asuka Kawai to help Illinois advance to the next round.

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Kawai promptly stepped up and delivered a fantastic performance in a series of nail-biting matches for Illinois to finish off Purdue. She defeated Ena Babic of the Boilermakers 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (10-8) as Illinois won 4-3.

The win against Purdue meant Illinois were back in action the following day against the No. 2 seed Michigan Wolverines.

In their only matchup against Michigan this season, Illinois were defeated 4-0. Although this Illini team was much improved since their March 6 loss to the Wolverines, the same result occurred in Madison at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium.

Michigan began the third round quite well, taking the doubles point after teams of Alyvia Jones and Jaedan Brown, along with Chiara Lommer and Kari Miller won their respective matches. 

The one victory for the Illini on Friday came from Kate Duong and Ashley Yeah on the doubles court 6-3. Although Illinois lost as a team on Friday, Duong was proud of the team’s ability to fight against Michigan.

“I think this is some of the best tennis that we’ve played,” Duong said. “Everyone fought to the very end, especially with Michigan. We dropped five first sets, but everyone either won the second set or made it really tight. I’m proud of how our team ended.”

Despite Illinois’ loss on Friday, they still have the chance to extend their season with the upcoming NCAA tournament. The Illini currently sit at 9-9 and although the chances are slim, there is still a possibility they will get to face off against some of the top teams from around the country. 

The 2021 NCAA Women’s Tennis selection show will be on Monday, May 3 at 5:00 p.m. and can be streamed on NCAA.com.

 

@will_payne33

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