Women’s tennis prepares for busy weekend against top teams

By Laura Hettiger

The Illinois women’s tennis team will have a busy weekend as they take on No. 25 William and Mary in a dual match tonight, and then No. 1 Georgia Tech Sunday afternoon.

Coming off an easy win against the University of Illinois-Chicago in a 7-0 match last Sunday, the Illini’s confidence and intensity levels need to be up to face their next two opponents. It will be even more of a challenge for Illinois – the team is missing two key players, freshmen Megan Fudge and Leigh Finnegan, both to foot injuries.

In the UIC game, all the players were forced to move up a spot to compensate for the injuries, and the lineup will stay the same this weekend with junior Momei Qu currently playing at No. 1 singles. Fudge is expected to return to action right before Big Ten play starts in late March. Finnegan, who had a standout fall season, is not expected to return this season.

After a week of practice focused on doubles work, head coach Michelle Dasso said she is excited and ready to take on the two nationally-ranked teams.

“Both William and Mary and Georgia Tech are extremely well coached teams,” Dasso said. “Any time you have the opportunity to play against top-notch programs, especially the No. 1-ranked team in the country (Georgia Tech), the level of excitement surrounding the match is overwhelming.”

Georgia Tech was just slated as No. 1 on Tuesday, marking the first time in the school’s history a women’s team has ever had a No. 1 ranking.

The Illini, currently 2-2 on the season, have had a demanding schedule early in the season, and the weekend opponents will not make winning matches any easier.

Illinois will rest on Saturday, as their two opponents face each other at the Atkins Tennis Center. The match will cost either William and Mary (3-0) or Georgia Tech (4-0) their undefeated status.

Tonight’s match will begin at 6 p.m., while the Georgia Tech match will start at noon. Both matches will be held at the Atkins Tennis Center.

After this weekend, the Illini will not return to action until Friday, Feb. 23 when No. 35 Purdue comes to town.