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Illinois women’s tennis prepares for ITA Regional tournament

Jaclyn+Switkes+in+the+match+against+Michigan+State+on+April+22%2C+2016.
Jaclyn Switkes in the match against Michigan State on April 22, 2016.

Jaclyn Switkes in the match against Michigan State on April 22, 2016.

The Daily Illini File Photo

The Daily Illini File Photo

Jaclyn Switkes in the match against Michigan State on April 22, 2016.

By Satvik Sethia, Staff writer

Despite dropping two of its last three regular season games last spring, the Illinois women’s tennis team has high hopes for the upcoming year.

Head coach Evan Clark was optimistic about the fall season’s upcoming matches, and he did not put much weight on the team’s most recent results.

“We’re not worrying about these ups and downs because the upcoming events are individual tournaments,” Clark said. “The preparation for the game has been fantastic; the players have been playing each other and have been focusing on fitness as much as tennis.”

The team lacks the experience of the four seniors they had last year, but Clark feels that it will be an exciting prospect to see a young, balanced team with four freshmen.

“They have settled in well,” Clark said. “We have had three to four weeks of training, where we tried to improve on what we saw in the first week. We are physically and mentally prepared, and ready to play.”

Illinois’ most recent game was a close 4-3 loss against Ohio State, but both the players and Clark feel that the result was more due to the Buckeyes’ quality rather than Illini’s shortcomings.

“It’s been a long time since the (Ohio State) game, and that has made us hungrier. We have high expectations,” Clark said.

The players and Clark highly praised new assistant coach Melissa Kopinski, who is a former Illini All-American. She spent two years at Texas Tech as a volunteer assistant coach before returning to Illinois.

“She’s been a great addition to the Illini family,” Clark said. “She’s tough on the girls, but they love her. It’s great to have someone who speaks my voice on court.”

The Illini will open their fall season by competing in the ITA Midwest Regional Championships from Oct. 12 to Oct. 17 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Junior Jaclyn Switkes, one of the players who will be traveling to Michigan, said her preparation over the summer has put her in a position to improve her results this season.

“I’ve put in a lot of work, focused a lot on tennis, on improving my style,” Switkes said. “I’ve been working on my offense, trying to come to the net and finish points. It has been a huge change, but it has helped me as an individual on the court.”

Switkes said the team has taken what they have learned from the spring and summer and is ready to face off against top competition.

“There are a lot of good games coming up before the winter break, and we are expecting lots of good results,” Clark said. “We want to come back after ITA, train hard for a couple of weeks before the team splits up to go to (the Arizona State Thunderbird Invite) and (the Dick Vitale Invite in Florida). We want to win games to set us up nicely for the spring.”

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