Underclassmen key in women’s tennis win

 

 

By Amber Greviskes

Bryce Marable hasn’t been at Illinois for long, but Saturday the sophomore proved just how influential she can be.

Marable, a sophomore transfer from Tennessee who began classes just last week, helped the Illini to a 4-3 road victory over Marquette.

Illinois clinched the pivotal doubles point when Marable and freshman standout Megan Fudge defeated sophomore Lauren Little and junior Shannon Brown, the Golden Eagles’ top tandem, 9-8 (4).

“I feel really good that we were able to pull out the win in our first test,” Illinois head coach Michelle Dasso said. “Despite their nerves, the girls remained calm. It was a pretty intense match.”

Dasso was impressed with the doubles team’s tenacity and fearlessness.

Down a break early on, Marable and Fudge hung in the game despite several calls that didn’t go Illinois’ way, Dasso said. They also survived a few match points.

Illini Momei Qu and Kristina Minor defeated Dominika Dabrowski and Margaret Wilson 8-3, giving Illinois an early edge.

One doubles point is awarded to the team that wins two of three doubles matches.

Despite the loss, Marquette head coach Jody Bronson was pleased with the way her team competed.

“Last year, we were not even in the game when we played Illinois,” she was quoted as saying in a press release.

“This year we came out, were very competitive and showed a lot of maturity. Obviously we are disappointed with the results, but the team came out and showed a lot of enthusiasm and intensity,” she added.

The Golden Eagles’ maturity may have helped them stay in the match, but the Illini youngsters gave the team the win.

Fudge and Minor, a fellow freshman, sparked the singles lineup with victories at the No. 1 and No. 5 spots, respectively.

Minor, who began her career as a power hitter who sometimes lacked consistency, proved that the fall season helped her game.

Unable to be rattled, she handed Brown a 6-3, 6-2 defeat.

Fudge topped Little 6-3, 6-4. Qu, a junior, defeated freshman Kylie Moore 6-4, 6-4.

“Megan has been a huge leader for us all year,” Dasso said.

“There are so many little things that she does,” she added.

Despite her youth, Fudge has adjusted well to collegiate tennis. After a tremendous fall season, during which she finished 14-4 and reached the semifinals of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Midwest Regional Championships, she began the spring season as the No. 10 singles player in the Midwest.

“She has really been a rock for us,” Dasso said. “She thrives when she’s down.