Illini women’s tennis concludes play at Midwest Blast

As the fall women’s tennis season concluded Sunday, the Illini finished strong at the Midwest Blast tournament at the Atkins Tennis Center.

After starting the weekend slow against Notre Dame in singles and Oklahoma in doubles, the Illini bounced back to take six of nine matches against Memphis in singles and Notre Dame in doubles.

“The competition this weekend was tough,” Illini assistant coach Georgia Rose said. “Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Memphis are great teams, so there were no easy matches. I think that only helps us going forward.”

Illinois began the weekend dropping five of six singles matches to Notre Dame — which finished fifth in the country last year — with freshman Misia Kedzierski’s 6-3, 6-1 victory as the Illini’s lone bright spot. Senior Annie McCarthy won her opening singles match against Andrea Arques-Garcia of Memphis in three sets, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.

“We’ve had a lot of tough three-set matches,” McCarthy said. “But I think it really shows how much work we’ve done, how much conditioning we’ve done and how well we can do playing under pressure of playing so many matches.”

Saturday’s singles matches did not fair well for the Illini, which were swept by Oklahoma in all four matches, including three in straight sets. Illinois responded in doubles later that day, sweeping Memphis in three matches. Illinois paired new doubles tandems, including Sophomore Rachael White with Kedzierski, who won their match 8-4.

“Rachael looks more experienced every single day,” Rose said. “It’s a credit to the hard work she’s put in, and Misia stepped up big too. The flexibility of having different doubles teams is always a good thing.”

The momentum carried into Sunday, with Illinois posting victories in five of six singles matches against Memphis, as well as in doubles with senior Leigh Finnegan and freshman Allison Falkin topping Notre Dame.

“We came out with a lot of energy to bounce back from Friday and Saturday,” junior Amy Allin said. “We’ve proved that a lot of the intangibles we struggled with last year are not going to be a problem this year.”

The Illini finished the weekend with 12 total victories and will now begin preparing for the spring season.

“This group is very motivated,” Rose said. “I think they are excited for a bit of a break. We’ll get back to work and I cant wait for January.”