The Daily Illini

Kopinski and Casati head to All-American pre-qualifier

Illinois%E2%80%99+Alexis+Casati+attempts+to+return+the+ball+during+the+meet.+Casati+along+with+Melissa+Kopinski+were+selected+to+compete+in+the+All-American+pre-qualifer+tournament.
Back to Article
Back to Article

Kopinski and Casati head to All-American pre-qualifier

Illinois’ Alexis Casati attempts to return the ball during the meet. Casati along with Melissa Kopinski were selected to compete in the All-American pre-qualifer tournament.

Illinois’ Alexis Casati attempts to return the ball during the meet. Casati along with Melissa Kopinski were selected to compete in the All-American pre-qualifer tournament.

Illinois’ Alexis Casati attempts to return the ball during the meet. Casati along with Melissa Kopinski were selected to compete in the All-American pre-qualifer tournament.

Illinois’ Alexis Casati attempts to return the ball during the meet. Casati along with Melissa Kopinski were selected to compete in the All-American pre-qualifer tournament.


Two players from the Illini women’s tennis team were selected to compete in the All-American pre-qualifier tournament in Pacific Palisades, Calif. this weekend. 

Senior captain Melissa Kopinski and sophomore Alexis Casati will be competing separately in the singles bracket as well as working together as the Illini’s lone doubles team at the event. The pair found out Monday that they were heading to California.

The pre-qualifier will kick off Kopinski’s and Casati’s fall seasons, which the two have been working toward all summer. 

“My goal this summer was to play as much tennis as I could, and I kind of did,” Kopinski said, “I traveled with a lot of college players this summer, and now I will be playing them, so the transition is pretty easy.” 

Casati, as a sophomore, spent her summer fine-tuning smaller attributes to her game, hoping to have it all come together for this fall season and the pre-qualifier. 

“I focused a lot on fitness, and also (on) little specifics in my game,” Casati said. 

The pre-qualifier is a single-elimination tournament with no-advantage scoring in singles and doubles. If the game is tied at 40-40, a tiebreak point is played to decide who wins the game.

The no-advantage scoring in singles is new to the fall season this year, but head coach Michelle Dasso is confident Kopinski and Casati will benefit from the change. 

“I think their returns are consistent enough that they can make their opponents play on those big points,” Dasso said. 

As far as the doubles draw is concerned, Kopinski and Casati played together for part of the spring season last year, so they have experience with each other. This will be Kopinski’s third trip to the pre-qualifier, but Casati will be playing in the tournament for the first time. As a sophomore, Kopinski made it all the way to the All-American quarterfinals in a doubles pair with Rachael White. 

“I am just going into it with an open mind,” Casati said, “It will definitely be a new experience.” 

Dasso really thinks the team is ready to start its seasons on the right foot. 

“We have been practicing about three weeks now, so they are pretty ready to play,” Dasso said. 

The rest of the team, along with Dasso, will be traveling to Notre Dame for the Notre Dame Invitational in South Bend, Ind. this weekend. Notre Dame hosts the University along with Big Ten rival Purdue, Louisville, Akron, and Tulane. 

Dasso looks at the fall season as a time to work on more individual aspects of the girl’s game.

“Fall is a little more individually orientated, while the spring is more dual match orientated,” Dasso said, “The fall gives us good looks at potential doubles teams for the spring as well.”

Despite being separated from the team this weekend, Kopinski said that individual confidence gained in the fall is key to success in the spring.

Cole can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @cole_Henke.

Leave a Comment