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Illini women start dual match season with doubleheader victory

Illinois%27+Mia+Rabinowitz+gets+ready+to+return+the+ball+during+the+match+against+Eastern+Illinois+at+Atkins+Tennis+Center+on+Sunday%2C+Jan.+21%2C+2018.+The+Illini+won+7-0.
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Illini women start dual match season with doubleheader victory

Illinois' Mia Rabinowitz gets ready to return the ball during the match against Eastern Illinois at Atkins Tennis Center on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018. The Illini won 7-0.

Illinois' Mia Rabinowitz gets ready to return the ball during the match against Eastern Illinois at Atkins Tennis Center on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018. The Illini won 7-0.

Austin Yattoni

Illinois' Mia Rabinowitz gets ready to return the ball during the match against Eastern Illinois at Atkins Tennis Center on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018. The Illini won 7-0.

Austin Yattoni

Austin Yattoni

Illinois' Mia Rabinowitz gets ready to return the ball during the match against Eastern Illinois at Atkins Tennis Center on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018. The Illini won 7-0.

By Satvik Sethia, Staff writer

The Illini women’s tennis team opened its season against both Florida State and Eastern Illinois on Sunday at the Atkins Tennis Centre and emerged on top after both encounters.

Illinois started off with three doubles games against Florida State, winning two of three to get the doubles point.

Senior Grace Tapak had no problems winning the first singles match 6-2, 6-3. Mia Rabinowitz came back from a 1-5 start to win six games in a row and another set to clinch another point. The Illini were up 3-0 when Florida State pulled back one, but Asuka Kawai won 7-6, 7-5 to give Illini a 4-1 win with two unfinished games.

“Florida State was fantastic. I’m really really pleased with the way we came out,” head coach Evan Clark said. “(They) tested our nerves, so I couldn’t be more pleased with that outcome and how we played and in those tough situations so really, really pleased.”

The Illini slipped in their first doubles match against the Panthers but got two wins in two to get the doubles point. 

“Bounce back with Eastern was okay, the doubles point was not good, and the girls knew that, and they bounced back in singles and took care of business, which I was very pleased with,” Clark said.

In singles, Illinois swept Eastern 7-0.

The results of the team before last fall are plagued with tight losses against tough opponents, with the extremely close 4-3 loss against the Buckeyes standing out.

The team underwent a huge change as graduating seniors were replaced. Of the four freshmen who were added to the team last fall, three played against Florida State and all four against Eastern Illinois. 

“It’s great to see them playing, you don’t know how they’re going to react in their first dual match, and they stepped up and played and took care of their matches, which was awesome, which is a tough thing to do for freshmen,” Clark said. “To throw them in the fire in the first match is awesome, and I’m really, really pleased with their maturity—how they took everything one step at a time and were very professional throughout the whole process.”

The Illini will be travelling to Chapel Hill next weekend to play William and Mary in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. Clark acknowledged the things that went wrong Sunday, especially the mishap that was doubles against the Panthers.

“I think that we’ve definitely put in a lot of hard work, we’re doing two-day practices, lot of conditioning, lot of weights, and I think that we should all be pretty confident in our fitness and in our tennis,” Rabinowitz said. “I’m excited for the rest of the season.” 

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