Women’s tennis to have total team effort for weekend

For the first time this fall season, the entire Illinois women’s tennis team will compete on the same weekend.

Misia Kedzierski will participate in singles competition at Northern Illinois on Oct. 21, while the rest of the team will play singles and doubles matches at the ITA Midwest Regional in Columbus, Ohio, starting Oct. 20.

Head coach Michelle Dasso has waited all fall season for the chance to see her entire team compete at one time.

“I’m really excited that the entire team across the board will be participating, so it’s nice to have everyone healthy,” Dasso said. “I feel like this is a great chance for us to gauge ourselves versus the different opponents we’re going to face in the Big Ten and in our region.”

Illinois, along with Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State and Wisconsin, represents the Big Ten in Columbus.

Though in different meets, senior Chelcie Abajian, sophomore Kedzierski and junior Breanne Smutko will make their first appearances this season.

“The only thing that’s been missing has been the actual competition,” Dasso said. “So after this weekend, regardless of how they do, that’s going to be something that’s under their belt now.”

Abajian and Smutko will make their season debut as a doubles pairing this weekend. They entered the season ranked as the No. 37 doubles team. Abajian had been sidelined for the last seven months and says she worked hard to get to this point and is just happy to get on the court.

“I’ve been working hard to rehab every day since I’ve gotten hurt, and I’m at a point where I’m able to do what everyone else is doing,” Abajian said. “I think after being out for so long it definitely makes me appreciate playing the game more and competing.

“It was tough to watch everybody at the beginning of the season doing everything that I couldn’t, but the trainers have done an amazing job with the rehab and I’m really looking forward to getting out there again.”

Besides Abajian and Smutko, the other three doubles pairings playing this weekend consist of junior Rachael White and freshman Melissa Kopinski, senior Marisa Lambropoulos and sophomore Allison Falkin and freshman Julia Jamieson and senior Amy Allin.

Dasso said she is glad to have numerous doubles combinations, as that will confuse some of their opponents.

“I think we’re going to throw off some teams, and that’s the beauty of the fall, to be flexible and change around teams and by the spring, by doing this, I’m looking forward to having much more concrete teams set than I have in the past,” Dasso said. “It’s a testament to the talent on my team, because in years past I haven’t been able to switch around teams in the fall as much as I can right now.

Allin, dubbed the team leader by her head coach, said regardless of the result, everyone playing at once for the first time will be a good learning experience for the freshmen.

“It will be huge for the freshmen to see how we compete as a team and what expect for the spring,” Allin said.