Illinois women’s tennis team fails to produce over weekend

Illinois+Melissa+Kopinski+attempts+to+return+the+ball+during+the+match+against+Indiana+at+Atkins+Tennis+Center%2C+on+Sunday%2C+March.+1%2C+2015.+The+Illini+won+6-1.

Illinois’ Melissa Kopinski attempts to return the ball during the match against Indiana at Atkins Tennis Center, on Sunday, March. 1, 2015. The Illini won 6-1.

By Jonathan Joffe

The Illinois women’s tennis team failed to pick up a victory against Big Ten opponents Penn State and Ohio State over the weekend. The Illini lost at Penn State on Friday 4-3 and fell to the Buckeyes 6-1 at home Sunday. The team now stands at 6-4 on the season.

The Illini’s Friday match against Penn State was the first conference match away from home for the team this season. Illinois head coach Michelle Dasso did not expect the match against the Nittany Lions to be easy.

“Playing at Penn State is a tough place to play for many reasons, but I credit our team for making the most of it,” Dasso said. “Penn State served big and Surin, at No. 3 singles, was a very, very strong player.”

The competition didn’t get easier for the Illini against Ohio State on Sunday. The team struggled against No. 22 Ohio State in the doubles portion of its Sunday match.

Senior Melissa Kopinski and sophomore Louise Kwong kept their match close at the No. 1 doubles spot against sophomores Gabriella De Santis and Sandy Niehaus, but the Buckeyes picked up wins at the No. 2 and No. 3 spots to win the doubles point before that match could conclude.

“It hurts to lose at home,” Kopinski said. “I’m very proud of how the team fought, and I’m glad we were able to hang in there physically.”

The singles portion of the match against Ohio State was much more competitive than the doubles portion — four of the six matches went to a third set. Despite the tight matches, Illinois failed to capitalize, losing at every spot except No. 2.

Sophomore Alexis Casati came back from a 1-8 defeat in doubles to win in straight sets in singles, defeating freshman Anna Sanford 6-4, 6-3.

“I knew that I had to get my energy up after doubles,” Casati said. “We got off to a really slow start, and even though I won in singles, we weren’t able to pull out a victory in the end.”

Despite defeating both of these teams last season, Illinois could not overcome losing both doubles points this time around. Dasso — who emphasized the importance of starting off with a win in the doubles point — wasn’t encouraged by the two losses.

“Losing is not fun,” Dasso said. “In general, we were right there in singles. It’s doubles that I’m most concerned about.”

[email protected]