Illini Poised for Breakout Spring Season
Five-Star Prospect Ranked 44th Nationally
Fighting Illini Athletics added several members to the family recently, as the early National Letter of Intent signing period started on Nov. 13.
Four Players to Compete in Boston
Illini go 7-2 in doubles, 12-7 in singles play
Rachael White and Melissa Kopinski defeated Whitney Ritchie and Hermon Brhane of Oklahoma, 6-4, 7-6(5).
Melissa Kopinski and Rachael White defeated South Carolina's Jaklin Alawi and Dominika Kanakova, 6-0, 7-6(5).
Women's Tennis team enjoys the sun with a little bit of tennis on the side
Head coach Michelle Dasso enters her eighth season at the helm of the Illinois women's tennis program. Dasso became the seventh coach of the Fighting Illini after a tremendous playing and coaching career at the University of Notre Dame.
In 2012-13, Dasso coached Melissa Kopinski and Rachael White to All-America honors as a doubles team. The duo advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships hosted at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex in Urbana, Ill. White and Kopinski were the second and third All-Americans in program history and first in 20 years.
Dasso's 2011-12 squad produced three All-Big Ten honorees, the most in program history. Kopinski and Allison Falkin were named first-team, while Marisa Lambropoulos was named second-team. The Orange and Blue took down No. 9 Texas, marking Illinois' first win over a top-10 team since 2003, and finished the year 18-8 overall with a No. 21 ranking.
The 2010-11 Illini boasted two All-Big Ten honorees, including Rachael White (first team) and Amy Allin (second team).
In the previous season, the Illini were rewarded with their first top-25 finish in the final Campbell's/ITA rankings since 2004, after making their third straight NCAA tournament appearance. The Orange and Blue finished 15-10 overall, including nine wins over nationally ranked opponents and placed third in the Big Ten with an 8-2 mark. Dasso also showed her recruiting prowess, signing the fourth-ranked recruiting class in the nation, which was the highest-ranked class in Illinois history.
In addition to her Illinois coaching duties, Dasso also served as coach for the fourth annual Master'U BNP Paribas for the second straight year. The international competition features the top collegiate players from around the world. Working alongside Boise State head coach Greg Patton, the duo guided the U.S. to a first-place finish with a 4-3 victory over France. It was the first-ever championship for the U.S. in only its second appearance in the tournament.
In 2008-09, the Illini advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2003 with a 4-3 victory over No. 19 Vanderbilt, which also marked their first win over a top-20 opponent in five years. The squad took home Illinois' Outstanding Team GPA Award with a cumulative GPA of 3.475.
After battling through an injury plagued first season as head coach, Dasso turned the program around in 2007-08. In only her second year at the the helm, Dasso helped lead the Orange and Blue to a fourth-place finish in the Big Ten and its first NCAA tournament appearance in four years.
Dasso is a native of Long Grove, Ill., and a 1997 graduate of Stevenson High School. She spent three years as an assistant coach for the University of Notre Dame (2003-06) women's tennis program under head coach Jay Louderback. Her primary responsibilities in South Bend, Ind., were recruiting, on-court coaching, budgeting, travel arrangement and managing the strength and conditioning program.
With the Fighting Irish, Dasso garnered ITA National Assistant Coach of the Year honors after leading Notre Dame to unprecedented success in 2005-06. Notre Dame finished 27-2 on the season and was ranked No. 2 in the country for eight weeks before falling in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships. In the fall of 2005, she coached the doubles tandem of Catrina and Christian Thompson to the ITA All-American Championships doubles title, becoming the first Notre Dame women's tennis players to capture a collegiate grand slam tournament.
In only her third season with Notre Dame, Dasso made a name for herself as a recruiter. She helped recruit the 2006-07's Irish signing class that ranked No. 1 in the country by tennisrecruiting.net, while previously being involved in recruiting two All-Americans. In addition, the women's tennis team was annually in contention for the highest team GPA honors among all Notre Dame athletic teams.
As a player, Dasso is the most decorated women's tennis player in Notre Dame history. She grabbed the ITA's National Senior Player of the Year accolade in 2001, and is the program's first four-time All-American. She still tops the Irish record books in several statistical categories, including career singles victories (140), most career wins at No. 1 singles (67), season singles victories (40) and combined season victories (74).
In 2001, she received the Francis Patrick O'Conner Award, presented annually by the University to one male and one female student-athlete who best displayed the total embodiment of the true spirit of Notre Dame.
After earning a bachelor's degree in business administration-marketing from Notre Dame in 2001, Dasso played professionally for two years, before returning to South Bend to join the Irish staff.