Illini women’s tennis welcome Big Ten duo this weekend

By Tim Griffin, Staff writer

The Illinois women’s tennis team will look to extend its five-match winning streak as the team hosts two Big Ten foes this weekend. The Illini will play Indiana on Friday and Purdue on Sunday.

The Illini are ranked No. 50 in the country and are 4-1 in Big Ten play (10-6 overall). This will be the Illini’s second weekend in a row hosting a Big Ten duo.

“It’s business as usual for us this week,” head coach Evan Clark said. “We feel like we have found a routine that has worked and we feel like we are really hitting our stride as a team. With that being said, we have two really quality teams in Indiana and Purdue coming to town, and we will need to raise our level to have success.”

The Hoosiers come into the contest ranked No. 68 in the country. Indiana is 13-6 overall and 3-2 in Big Ten play. The team lost its last match to in-state rival Purdue. The Illini won last year’s matchup, 6-1 at the Atkins Tennis Center, but the Hoosiers lead the all-time series 33-13.

The Boilermakers will be looking to get to the .500 mark in league play. The unranked Boilermakers are 9-9 in the spring season and will be taking on the Illini for the first time since 2014. The team is 2-5 on the road this year, but this hasn’t slowed Illinois’ preparation for this weekend.

“We will really focus on maintaining a consistent high-level throughout singles and doubles and trying to avoid the major ups and downs,” Clark said. “We have done such a better job on the big points, and that will continue to be a major focus for us.”

The Illini continue to maintain their doubles dominance with a 31-8 combined record. No. 1 doubles player and recent recipient of Big Ten Athlete of the Week Louise Kwong and her doubles partner Ines Vias have lead the Illini in solid doubles play.

Kwong received this honor following her standout play last weekend versus Iowa and Nebraska. In singles play, she beat Iowa’s Anastasia Reimchen 6-1, 6-4. Then on Sunday, she defeated Maggy Lehmicke of Nebraska in straight sets.

Kwong’s doubles play has also been strong. Kwong and her doubles partner freshman Ines Vias have earned a top 50 ranking in the country and are undefeated in the Big Ten.

Kwong and Vias have an impressive 5-0 record in the Big Ten and are 19-6 overall.

The rest of the lineup has done its part as well, with the No. 2 doubles spot going 8-4 overall so far and the No. 3 spot going 11-2 overall. The stellar doubles play, along with working out some kinks in practice, has helped anchor the Illini’s most recent hot streak.

“We have really just focused on some of the little things for each individual,” Clark said. “Overall, we have really focused in on some areas in singles because that was the area we were really struggling with before the streak. We have done an extremely better job at all six spots in singles, and that has helped us have success over the last five matches.”

[email protected]

@TimGriffy6