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

No. 32 Illinois women’s tennis sweeps Minnesota, falls in competitive match at Wisconsin

Matt Stepp
Sophomore Violeta Martinez returns the ball in her match on Feb. 17, which was cut short because the Illini won the meet automatically.

Illinois women’s tennis was back in action at home on Friday afternoon, hosting the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The Illini swept the Gophers, improving to 13-6.

In doubles, it was all business for the Illini. The No. 2 team of junior Kida Ferrari and fifth-year Josie Frazier quickly won their match with a 6-1 routine, a high-energy win. Sophomore McKenna Schaefbauer and junior Kasia Treiber followed Ferrari and Frazier off the court with a 6-3 win to secure the doubles point for the Illini. They pulled off three straight games to finish the set after being tied with their opponents at 3-3. Junior Megan Heuser and freshman Alice Xu were locked in a tight battle on the top court when play was stopped, leading 5-4.

In singles, it was more of the same for the Illini. Schaefbauer, Heuser and Treiber pulled off straight-set wins for the Illini to cement the sweep. Treiber broke her opponent, sophomore Sofia Pinto, at 5-5 to go up 6-5 and serve for the match, clinching the Illini’s victory with a 7-5 second set. Even with the unfinished matches, Illinois was firmly in control, winning the first set and leading in the second in all three matches.

Heuser’s 6-3, 6-2 win was important for her, having lost two and not finished two of her last four singles matches. Her ability to mix up her game by attacking the net off of first serves and mixing in a slice to throw off her opponent’s pace was on full display on Friday.

“I’m really like a slice-and-dice person; I’m never going to give you the same exact shot,” Heuser said. “I love a good serve and volley on the ad side, come in, finish. That’s like what I do and who I am. I’m so good at being gritty and grinding in the back, but also, I can come forward and I can hit and I can be aggressive in big moments. I think that’s what separates me from a lot of players.”

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Following their home win, the team traveled to Madison, Wisconsin, for a matchup with the Badgers, who were undefeated on their home courts. The Illini followed up Friday’s doubles victory by claiming the doubles point again with victories at the No. 2 and No. 3 positions. After starting the season with a multitude of losses in doubles, head coach Evan Clark has been very pleased with the team’s recent improvement on the doubles court.

“I think we’re serving better, which helps a lot,” Clark said. “Keeping it simple a little bit more. We’ve got a good understanding of what we need to do in doubles, and hopefully that continues.”

Despite another strong doubles performance, the Illini faltered on the singles court. Schaefbauer and Treiber took their opponents to three sets but couldn’t pull through, while Frazier and Heuser fell in straight sets, 5-7, 5-7 and 4-6, 4-6, respectively.

With the scorelines being so close, Clark was happy with his team’s effort performance despite the results.

“First of all, I thought it was a battle,” Clark said. “I was really pleased actually, it was really positive after the match. I felt like that match could’ve gone either way, and our girls did a lot of good things.”

The Illini’s lone win came from Ferrari, who won her first set 6-2, dropped the second 2-6 and rallied to win the match 6-1 in the third.

“She hit the ball really hard and obviously wanted to redirect my pace, so giving her any pace was definitely something that couldn’t happen,” Ferrari said. “I was mixing it up a lot in the first set and keeping my depth up. In the second, she came out like a whole different player. She was making every ball; she was coming to net. It was kind of an onslaught, honestly.”

Although her opponent’s play style had flipped on her, Ferrari used the third set break to simplify her strategy and focus on being aggressive, allowing her to win the third set in a convincing fashion.

“I just started going to net, and she kind of crumbled under that pressure,” Ferrari said.

The Illini are now 13-7 on the season and 5-2 in the Big Ten. They’ll take on Indiana and Purdue for their next matchups this weekend at home.



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About the Contributors
Sahil Mittal
Sahil Mittal, Senior Sports Reporter
Matt Stepp
Matt Stepp, Visual Director
Hey there! I’m Matt, I’m currently a first-year majoring in Graphic Design, with a minor in media. I started here at the Daily Illini in the fall of 2023 as a staff photographer, and now serve as the Visual Director for the Daily Illini. I have always loved photography, you will probably see me around campus shooting sports and other events. I’m also an artist and love watercolor painting and illustration. If you’re a swimmer or enjoy the pool, you may see me at the ARC or CRCE working as a lifeguard as well, I’m never away from a pool for too long!
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