The Daily Illini

Illini women’s tennis cap off strong spring season


The Illinois women’s tennis ended its season in a Big Ten tournament semifinals loss against  highly-ranked Ohio State in East Lansing, Michigan.

But despite their season ending early, the Illini still finished with an impressive spring record.

After parting ways with longtime head coach Michelle Dasso, the Illini put assistant coach Evan Clark as the interim head coach.

It did not take long for Clark to make improvements for the Illini, helping them finish the regular season with a 15-9 overall record, one win better than last year’s record.

This marked one of the Illini’s best regular seasons in recent history, as Illinois hadn’t hit the 15-win mark since 2012.

The Illini also finished with the Big Ten at 8-3. This gave the Illini the fourth seed in the Big Ten Tournament.

To add on to their stellar spring, the Illini had a strong 8-3 home record and never got bounced out of the ITA rankings.

Although the Illini finished well, their start to the season was relatively inconsistent.

Illinois started the year by downing two easy opponents, IUPUI and Eastern Illinois.

The Illini’s first challenge came against Texas Tech, when they were reunited with former Illini standout Melissa Kopinski, who is an assistant coach on Texas Tech. Ranked No. 17 at the time, the Red Raiders handed the Illini their first loss of the season.

An early takeaway from this matchup was the strength of doubles duo Louise Kwong and Ines Vias. Kwong and Vias defeated a top-25 ranked doubles team. They were dominant for the Illini and were the backbone for Illinois’ strong doubles play the remainder of the year. Kwong and Vias finished the year with a 24-8 record.

Following the Texas Tech loss, the Illini fell to Kentucky, Notre Dame, and Depaul prior to the Big Ten season. This put the Illini at 4-4 heading into their Big Ten opener against Northwestern. Northwestern proved to be the better team and was strong in the Big Ten all year long. Kwong and Vias continued their solid play, though and took down a top-15 ranked doubles duo.

After the Northwestern loss, the Illini would prove themselves to be competitive in the Big Ten. They got back on track after a comeback win over the Badgers. Following this, the Illini would win seven-straight matches in the Big Ten, with victories over Rutgers, Maryland, Iowa, Nebraska, Indiana and Purdue. Ohio State put an end to the Illini hot streak. The Illini would close out the regular season going 2-2 in the Big Ten.

Despite having no incoming recruits, the Illini will have nine out of 10 players returning for next year.

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@TimGriffy6

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