Kopinksi, Illini women’s tennis looks to bounce back in last fall tournaments

Illinois’ Melissa Kopinski prepares to swing during the Midwest Tennis Regionals at Atkins Tennis Center on Friday, October 17.

Senior Melissa Kopinski and the Illinois women’s tennis team are looking for redemption this weekend.

After a disappointing performance at the Midwest Regional two weeks ago, the Illini have turned their sights to their last fall competition.

The team will be splitting up and going to two different tournaments, with Kopinski, fellow senior Julia Jamieson, and sophomores Alexis Casati and Louise Kwong, heading to Orlando, Florida, for the USTA Clay Court Invitational.

Kopinski, after losing in the Round of 16 at the Midwest Regional, looks to end her final fall season on the right note. According to Kopinski and head coach Michelle Dasso, it all starts in practice.

“Kopinski, along with the rest of the girls have had a great week of practice, and I am really expecting the best from them all this weekend,” Dasso said.

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    The Illini have been practicing off-campus all week at the Champaign Country Club, where there are clay courts. Dasso stressed how nice it is to have a facility like that so close to campus.

    It can be tough for players to change surfaces, especially midway through the season, so being able to practice on clay courts for two weeks could really help the Illini.

    Kopinski has had trouble staying consistent and waiting on her shots this fall, so that is a huge point of emphasis for her. She said she is also making sure she has the right mentality for every point.

    “I want to go into every point knowing how I want to play it,” Kopinski said. “The way I go into every point is going to be huge this weekend.”

    While half the team heads to Orlando, freshmen Jade Hilton and Grace Tapak and sophomores Madie Baillon and Jerricka Boone are heading to Purdue.

    The four players going to Purdue are the least experienced on the team, and playing at a rival Big Ten school will be a test.

    “It is always good to send the underclassmen to a tournament and see how well they can handle themselves and the team,” Kopinski said.

    This is the last team event before the team begins individual winter work. The spring season begins with the team returning to Orlando for the Central Florida Invite on Jan. 17.

    Cole is a freshman in LAS. He can be reached at [email protected].