Women’s tennis clinches victory

By Laura Hettiger

In a quick, 6-1 decision, the Fighting Illini women’s tennis team was able to put another tally in the victory column Wednesday night after defeating the Redbirds of Illinois State in a dual match, ending a current four-game losing streak.

Like the team’s previous match against Washington, it came down to sophomore Shivani Dave to end the game for the Illini. In a nearly five-hour battle against the Huskies just 10 days ago, Dave fell in the No. 3 singles spot, settling the match 3-4 in favor of Washington. Wednesday night featured a different outcome. Dave defeated Veronique Parke-Bedard 6-1, 6-4, and Illinois went on to win.

“I felt really good about Shivani’s play, and it was a big moment for her to step up and win it for us tonight,” head coach Michelle Dasso said. “She clinched it for us today in a tight, close second set. It was huge for her, and we’re really proud of her.”

After claiming the doubles point early in the match, the Illini kept the intensity level up as they headed into singles play. All three doubles pairings won their matches to take the initial point lead with 8-1, 8-2, and 8-4 decisions.

Spending much of the last week’s practices working on doubles play, Illinois had little trouble disposing of the Redbirds early on. Leading the effort were partners Momei Qu and Kristina Minor, who easily defeated ISU’s No. 3 doubles players Matea Simovic and Tanja Hrovatic.

“Any time you can get the doubles point is huge,” Dasso said. “We did work a lot on doubles, but it has been hard because we’ve had a few injuries. We did a lot of doubles drills, and overall I guess it worked.”

Illinois, now 3-6 on the year, had very strong showings in several of the singles slots. Junior Alejandra Meza Cuadra easily defeated the Redbirds’ No. 6 singles player in a quick 6-0, 6-0 decision, followed by No. 4 singles player Bryce Marable defeating Illinois State’s Jeanelle Stines in a short 6-3, 6-3 finish.

Illinois State’s lone point came in the No. 1 singles competition where freshman standout Megan Fudge fell to Katri Miller in a 6-0, 6-4 match.

Fudge is still healing from a foot injury that left her sidelined for the first portion of the season.

Winning with a full team effort, the Illini will have several days off from matches as they prepare for their Spring Break trip to the Lone Star state where they will play against Houston, the University of Texas, and Texas-San Antonio.

Wednesday’s match concluded an eight-game home stretch the Illini have enjoyed. Big Ten play will resume at the end of March when the Illini take on conference rival, Michigan State.