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. 5 seeded Illinois women’s tennis to play Rutgers at Big Ten tournament

Angel Saldivar
Doubles partners Kate Duong (front) and Megan Heuser (rear) hype each other up between serves during a game on Sept. 23.

After their final weekend of the regular season, No. 38 Illinois women’s tennis prepares for the Big Ten tournament at the University of Michigan.

The Illini are seeded No. 5 after an 8-3 conference record. Although they have the same conference record as No. 4 Wisconsin, the Illini fell to the Badgers during the regular season, thus granting Wisconsin the tiebreaker.

In their first match, Illinois will play on Thursday against No. 12 Rutgers after they defeated No. 13 Michigan State on Wednesday afternoon. Illinois has experience against Rutgers this season, having taken down the Scarlet Knights in Champaign 4-2 on March 17. The Illini won the doubles point but dropped two matches in singles (junior Megan Heuser and junior Kida Ferrari) before ultimately triumphing.

“Rutgers gave us everything they could when we played them; it was a close match,” said head coach Evan Clark. “Obviously, Wisconsin will be sitting there, but we really need to get through the first one.”

If Illinois takes down Rutgers again, they’re primed for a matchup against Wisconsin. The Badgers defeated the Illini 4-2 in Madison only a few weeks ago, and Illinois is already looking forward to a rematch.

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“Last year, we lost to Iowa in the regular season and then beat them in the Big Ten tournament, so we’ve been there before,” said junior Kasia Treiber. “Wisconsin… the match was really close. Everyone had tight matches — third sets — so anything can happen.”

After being out for most of the regular season with a foot injury, senior Kate Duong recently returned to the lineup for Illinois, reuniting with Heuser at the top of the team’s lineup. Duong and Heuser will be a duo to watch as they look to regain the spark that led them to the highest-ever ITA women’s doubles ranking (No. 7 in the country) in Illinois history last season.

“I think it’s huge just to have a really solid No. 1 team that had a ton of experience,” Clark said. “Obviously, they were All-Americans last year. They know what they’re doing; they know each other like the back of their hand, so to have that continuity is huge for us.”

Despite being out longer than expected, Duong stayed involved, actively serving as a coach for her teammates during her recovery. Now, despite being limited to playing only doubles, she’s ready for whatever is thrown at her in the postseason.

“I’m just playing with no regrets right now,” Duong said. “Trying to give my all out there because I only have a couple of matches left, so I gotta make the most of them while I’m here.”

Last year, Illinois was the No. 3 seed in the tournament and bowed out in the semifinals to Ohio State. Despite being a lower seed this year, the team still has high confidence and expectations heading into the postseason.

“Obviously, as a team, the team has been doing so well so far,” Duong said. “We’re so excited to get after the Big Ten tournament, and hopefully we can do well out there.”



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About the Contributors
Sahil Mittal
Sahil Mittal, Senior Sports Reporter
Angel Saldivar, Assistant Photo Editor
My name is Angel Saldivar and I'm nearing the end of my Journalism degree at the University of Illinois and currently serve as the Assistant Photo Editor at the Daily Illini. When I'm not out taking photos, I'm diving into filmmaking with my film club (shoutout Illini Film and Video) or playing the drums. Got questions or just want to connect? Don't hesitate to email me!
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