Illini women's tennis prepares for ITA Kickoff Weekend Tournament

By Tim Griffin

The Fighting Illini women’s tennis team depart for Lubbock, Texas this weekend to participate in the ITA Kickoff Weekend where they will play their 3rd overall match of the season against Virginia Tech.

The Illini returned to campus Jan. 7 in preparation for the Kick Off, as well as competing in a dual match, defeating both Eastern Illinois and IUPUI.

“We’ve been training hard for this. We’ve had two a day practices and done lots of conditioning and lots of weights. We are in really good shape and I think we are ready to go,” interim head coach Evan Clark said. Clark will be serving as head coach for the 2015-2016 season as former head coach Michelle Dasso’s contract was not renewed.

The Illini have high expectations not only for this weekend, but for the rest of the season. After finishing 14-10 last year and missing the NCAA tournament, doing well in this weekend’s tournament could turn things around.

“We are just taking one match at a time, but I expect us to compete with everybody down there and win the Kick Off and hopefully qualify for national indoors,” Clark said.

For returning players, such as juniors Alexis Casati and Louisa Kwong, while the Kick Off Weekend tournament is new to them, they still feel confident they can be successful.

“This is the first year I’ve ever played in this tournament, but everybody’s playing well so I think we are definitely looking to win at least our first round and hopefully qualify,” Casati said.

“We’ve been playing a lot of points and doing a lot of repetition to prepare for this. Hopefully, we can go 2-0,” Kwong said.

The Illini face off against Virginia Tech at 2pm Saturday. Following, they will either play Texas Tech or Oregon Sunday.

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