Women's Tennis
#24 Illini Fall to #19 Notre Dame in 4-3 Thriller

Sophomore Melissa Kopinski put the Illini on the board with her second career victory at No. 1 singles on Sunday.
Sophomore Melissa Kopinski put the Illini on the board with her second career victory at No. 1 singles on Sunday.

Jan. 20, 2013

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URBANA, Ill. - The 24th-ranked Fighting Illini women's tennis team (2-2) came up short to No. 19 Notre Dame (2-0) in a 4-3 heartbreaker on Sunday afternoon at the Atkins Tennis Center. Senior Rachael White, junior Misia Kedzierski and sophomore Melissa Kopinski won in singles to give Illinois its three points.

"I'm proud of my girls but dissatisfied," head coach Michelle Dasso said. "We let a great opportunity slip through our fingers. Something is going on with our doubles, and we've got to take a serious look at that. But across the board, I think we could've won six singles against the Irish. Regardless of how disappointed I am in our doubles play and our doubles strategy, I still think we had the opportunity to win it in singles."

The Illini got off to a rough start in doubles, dropping matches on courts two and three to give Notre Dame a 1-0 advantage heading into singles action. White and Kopinski, the 11th-ranked tandem in the nation, did not finish their match before the Irish clinched the point.

In singles play, junior Allison Falkin dropped a straight-set match at the No. 2 spot to put the Illini down two points. Illinois stormed back with a 6-3, 6-3 win by No. 106 Kopinski on court one. The Palos Hills, Ill., native took down No. 58 Britney Sanders to earn her second career victory at the top spot. White followed with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Quinn Gleason on court three to even the dual score at two points apiece.

Freshman Audrey O'Connor dropped a quick two-setter on court six to give the Irish a 3-2 lead with two matches remaining. Senior Breanne Smutko won her first set but could not hold the lead, falling short to Chrissie McGaffigan in a 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 thriller on court four to allow Notre Dame to clinch the dual victory.

After dropping her first set, Kedzierski battled back to force a third set on court five before Smutko's match ended. Once the dual match was decided, Kedzierski and Julie Sabacinski finished their contest with a super tiebreaker. Kedzierski eventually captured the 5-7, 7-5, (10-5) victory, just minutes after the Irish clinched the team victory.

The Orange and Blue will travel to Oxford, Miss., next weekend for ITA Kick-off action, which will take place Jan. 27-28. The second-seeded Illini will face third-seeded Vanderbilt in round one and will battle either host and top-seeded Ole Miss or fourth-seeded Yale in round two. The winner of the four-team playoff will join the champion from each of the other 14 host sites in the ITA National Team Indoor Championships in February.

#19 Notre Dame 4, #24 Illinois 3
1. #106 Melissa Kopinski (ILL) def. #58 Britney Sanders (ND) 6-3, 6-3
2. Jennifer Kellner (ND) def. #59 Allison Falkin (ILL) 6-3, 6-0
3. Rachael White (ILL) def. Quinn Gleason (ND) 7-5, 6-3
4. Chrissie McGaffigan (ND) def. Breanne Smutko (ILL) 3-6, 6-4, 6-2
5. Misia Kedzierski (ILL) def. Julie Sabacinski (ND) 5-7, 7-5, (10-5)
6. Molly O'Koniewski (ND) def. Audrey O'Connor (ILL) 6-2, 6-3

1. #11 Melissa Kopinski/Rachael White (ILL) vs. Jennifer Kellner/Chrissie McGaffigan (ND) 5-6, unfinished
2. Quinn Gleason/Britney Sanders (ND) def. Breanne Smutko/Audrey O'Connor (ILL) 8-3
3. Molly O'Koniewski/Julie Sabacinski (ND) def. Allison Falkin/Julia Jamieson (ILL) 8-3

Order of finish: Doubles (3,2); Singles (2,1,3,6,4,5)