Illini women’s tennis takes two

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By Rosalind Dumlao

Two wins last weekend brought some momentum to the No. 40 Illinois women’s tennis team, in the form of a 7-0 sweep against No. 65 Minnesota on Saturday and 5-2 win over No. 69 Iowa on Sunday.

The wins boosted Illinois to 14-4 and 5-1 in Big Ten play.

Grabbing the early doubles point against Minnesota set the pace throughout the rest of the match, which was the first outdoor match on the newly-constructed Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex.

A win at the No. 2 doubles spot and a loss at No. 1 left the pressure on the duo of sophomore Annie McCarthy and freshman Amy Allin at the No. 3 spot. Although McCarthy and Allin clinched the doubles point with an 8-5 win, Illinois head coach Michelle Dasso felt the highlight was the No. 2 duo of redshirt sophomore Leigh Finnegan and freshman Chelcie Abajian.

“I’d rather focus on number two,” Dasso said. “I mean Finnegan and Abajian just played it very well today. I thought they played the best. One and three struggled. Even if three got the win they struggled, but (the win) at two was huge for them.”

In singles play, No. 108 Megan Fudge’s 6-4, 6-2 victory over Serbia native Tijana Koprivica clinched the match for Illinois. Despite the junior’s straight set victory, the clash of two vocal international athletes provided for an intense match.

“I felt like I was playing myself actually,” the Kaarst, Germany native said. “(After) playing someone like (Koprivica), I understand why people get annoyed playing against me.”

Fudge, who’s referred to as the fiery one on the team, said she had to bring her intensity down to win the match.

“I had to stay focused and not getirritated,” Fudge added. “I just had to stay positive or else I would’ve flipped at her, and I just had to stay a bit more calm than normal, which I don’t like.”

Illinois headed back inside the Atkins Tennis Center on Sunday to host Iowa. Despite walking away with a 5-2 win, sophomore Marisa Lambropoulos said it felt more like a tight 4-3 victory.

While the Illini started strong, sweeping all three doubles spots, singles play was filled with back-to-back wins and losses.

Redshirt sophomore Leigh Finnegan, who is ranked No. 111, lost a frustrating match against No. 87 Sonja Molnar, 6-1, 6-0.

Meanwhile, sophomore Annie McCarthy played her first Big Ten singles match on court six. Although McCarthy said she was very nervous, she got the Illini on the board with a straight-set victory over Ally Majercik.

After notching wins at the No. 2 and 6 singles, Lambropoulos’ 6-1 third-set victory against Lynne Poggensee-Wei clinched the match for Illinois.

“I knew that I had to make a lot of balls and just outlast her,” Lambropoulos said. “She was actually very tired, and I knew if I got one ball back and waited for the short ball then it would be good.”

Illinois’ display of the physical and mental toughness is just what it needs going into Tuesday’s match against No. 3 Notre Dame.

“We just went out there with a lot of confidence and definitely showed that we were much better than them,” McCarthy said. “We showed that we were more fit and more prepared for this match.”

Two wins last weekend brought some momentum to the No. 40 Illinois women’s tennis team, in the form of a 7-0 sweep against No. 65 Minnesota on Saturday and 5-2 win over No. 69 Iowa on Sunday. The wins boosted Illinois to 14-4 and 5-1 in Big Ten play.