Illini women’s tennis falls in Big Ten opener

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Momei Qu returns the ball at Atkins Tennis Center, Feb. 9. Illinois fell to Purdue and Washington last weekend. ME Online

By Laura Hettiger

Freshman standout Megan Fudge returned to the Illinois women’s tennis team in dominating fashion this weekend, winning both of her matches at the No. 1 singles spot, even though the team struggled in both meets.

Since the Jan. 28 meeting with No. 31 Tennessee, an injury to her left foot has sidelined Fudge, forcing her to sit out three matches and all practices.

After many rehabilitation sessions and several weeks in a walking boot, Fudge returned to action Friday to beat Purdue’s No. 1 singles player, Mallory Voelker.

Without much rest, Fudge came back Sunday to defeat the University of Washington’s No. 1 singles player Tara Simpson in two sets, 7-5 and 6-4.

“All in all, my hat goes out to Megan Fudge who came out and won her singles match after having practiced very little this week due to her coming back from injury,” head coach Michelle Dasso said.

“The energy that she brings to the court definitely gives us a different look when she’s in the lineup,” she said.

Although Fudge had an impressive return, she scored the Illini’s only point as Illinois dropped their Big Ten opener to No. 36 Purdue, 6-1.

The other bright spot of the match came in doubles play as junior Momei Qu and freshman Kristina Minor defeated Purdue’s Randi Schuler and Anna Dzeva at the No. 3 slot, 9-8 in a tiebreaker.

Against Purdue’s doubles duo, No. 28 in the country, Fudge and sophomore Bryce Marable dropped another match that ended in a tiebreaker, ceding the doubles point to Purdue.

Sunday’s doubles play mirrored Friday’s, as the tandem of Qu and Minor won the No. 3 spot, but, again, the Illini gave up the doubles point. After four hours of play, the match came to a 3-3 standstill.

The entire team rallied behind sophomore Shivani Dave as she battled Washington’s freshman Joyce Ardies at the No. 3 singles spot. The match went to three sets before Dave ultimately fell to Ardies, 5-7, 7-5, 6-4.

The Illini, currently 2-6 on the year, will have a nine day break before Illinois State comes to Urbana on March 7. The match will end an eight-game home stretch for the Illini.