The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Conference schedule continues for No. 34 Illinois women’s tennis with two match road trip

Sophomore+McKenna+Schaefbauer+celebrates+winning+a+game+against+Brown+University+on+Saturday.
Matt Stepp
Sophomore McKenna Schaefbauer celebrates winning a game against Brown University on Saturday.

After a successful 2-0 start to its Big Ten schedule last weekend, No. 34 Illinois women’s tennis hits the road for matches at No. 75 Iowa and Nebraska. The Illini lost to both squads on the closing weekend of the 2022-23 regular season, but pulled off a 4-2 over the Hawkeyes in the Big Ten tournament one week later.

Illinois’ opponents are in very different positions heading into the weekend. Despite sitting at 7-6 on the year, Iowa has won six of its last seven matches including a 4-2 win over Nebraska. Conversely, Nebraska has lost three straight matches and fallen to an 0-2 start to conference play. On top of the recent loss to Iowa, Nebraska also lost a nail biter against Maryland (4-3), who Illinois comfortably beat 4-1 last weekend.

Both schools are spending the weekend opposite the state of Illinois, with No. 35 Northwestern heading to Lincoln on Friday before going to Iowa City on Sunday. The Illini have the reverse schedule, with first serve against the Hawkeyes scheduled for 5 p.m. CT on Friday, while their match against the Cornhuskers starts at 11 a.m. CT on Sunday.

The Illini are 34-27 against the Hawkeyes all-time and their most recent matches have been split rather evenly. Three of the last five matches have swung Illinois’ way, including a 1-1 mark in Iowa City. Head coach Evan Clark acknowledged that the Hawkeyes are even more formidable on their home courts, but also said that the Illini are ready for anything after a pair of conference wins last weekend.

“Iowa is always tough, especially at their place,” said Clark. “We’ve always struggled there, and they’re really good on their courts. (Head coach) Sasha (Schmid) does a great job. But we’ve got a lot of confidence; this past weekend was a huge weekend for us to get our confidence back. We’re ready for it.”

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Sunday’s match is a reunion for much of Illinois, as Nebraska head coach German Dalmagro spent four years (2018-22) as an associate head coach under Clark. Dalmagro originally left Illinois to be head coach of Arkansas State in January 2023 before being named head coach of Nebraska in July 2023. Despite Nebraska’s recent skid, both sides will bring everything they’ve got on Sunday.

“We take everybody really seriously,” Clark said. “They’re (Nebraska) really talented. They’ve taken some lumps these past couple weeks, but they’ve been playing some good teams. I think all these matches could go either way, just like you saw in our matches (last weekend). Everybody’s winning by a field goal. Nebraska will be really tough, and they always get up for us, so we’ll need our best stuff.”

 

@blountco21

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About the Contributors
Conor Blount
Conor Blount, Senior Sports Reporter
My name is Conor Blount. I’m a junior in aerospace engineering with a minor in computer science. I joined The Daily Illini in the summer of 2022 as a beat writer for the sports section and am now one of three assistant sports editors. My first beat was women’s tennis before I moved to women’s basketball in the spring. I also had the pleasure of covering several former Illini at the 2023 NFL draft and NBA summer league. If you have any questions, I can be reached at the email below.
Matt Stepp
Matt Stepp, Visual Director
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