Women’s tennis falls to top teams

By Laura Hettiger

It was a rough weekend for the Illinois women’s tennis team as it dropped two matches against top-10 teams, facing the Tribe of William & Mary on Friday and Georgia Tech Sunday afternoon.

Friday’s match had few bright spots as the No. 25 Tribe handed the Illini a 6-1 loss. Illinois’ lone point came from junior Alejandra Meza Cuadra who won her second straight singles match at the No. 5 spot against William & Mary’s Barbara Zidek, 7-6(3). 7-5.

Two athletes on William & Mary’s roster are among the top-75 players in the country, including Megan Moulton-Levy who is currently ranked No. 5. Illini junior Momei Qu fell to Moulton-Levy in straight sets, 6-0 and 6-0, at the No. 1 singles spot.

Saturday was Illinois’ day off, but its two weekend opponents faced each other, with the Tribe defeating the Yellow Jackets in a close 4-3 match at the Atkins Tennis Center.

Georgia Tech, ready to defend its No. 1 ranking, came out strong early against the Illini on Sunday. The Yellow Jackets handed Illinois its second loss in three days courtesy of a 7-0 thrashing.

After Georgia Tech dominated in doubles play, the strongest part of their lineup came out firing in the singles matches. Out of their six players, four are slated in the top 75 nationally.

Sophomore Bryce Marable had the strongest showing as she took Georgia Tech’s No. 3 singles player, Tarryn Rudman, to three sets before eventually falling.

“I felt that just winning one game would be a step in a positive direction,” Marable said.

The Illini finished out the disappointing weekend with a record of 2-4 on the season and are looking forward to having a long break from playing games before the advent of the Big Ten season.

“Overall, this weekend we just got outplayed,” head coach Michelle Dasso said. “We have played a tough schedule, and down a few people from our lineup, so I don’t want the girls to get down on their confidence. We have two weeks before out next match, so we are going to go into practice and continue to improve before we start Big Tens against Purdue. We can learn a lot from these matches, but now it is about forgetting about them and moving on.”

Illinois’ next opponent will be Purdue when the Boilermakers come to Urbana to open up Big Ten play on Friday, Feb. 23.