Freshman Audrey O'Connor clinched the win for Illinois with a three-set victory on court six.
Feb. 2, 2013
ATLANTA - The Fighting Illini women's tennis team (3-4) ended its three-match losing streak Saturday with a thrilling 4-3 win at Georgia State (2-2). Freshman Audrey O'Connor clinched the Orange and Blue victory with a three-set win on court six to get the Illini back on track.
"Today, we really came together as a team," head coach Michelle Dasso said. "Across the board, this was our best showing as a whole. We played fearless doubles and looked strong at all three positions. Rachael (White) and Melissa (Kopinski) picked up a big win, which was pivotal for their confidence moving forward. Our training trip to Florida prepared us for a tight outdoor match, but the girls' toughness and determination got us the win in cold conditions on the road."
Illinois got off to a strong start in doubles with wins at Nos. 1 and 2. Senior Rachael White and sophomore Melissa Kopinski, the 11th-ranked duo in the nation, captured an 8-4 victory at the top spot to take down 19th-ranked Abigail Tere-Apisah and Masa Grgan. Senior Breanne Smutko and O'Connor followed up with a convincing 8-3 win over Whitney Byrd and Maryna Kozachenko at No. 2, giving Illinois its first doubles point in its last four matches.
In singles, Smutko extended her success with a swift 6-1, 6-0 win over Chaimaa Roudami on court five to put the Illini up, 2-0. Georgia State stormed back with wins on courts one and two to even the score at two points apiece.
Junior Allison Falkin, who is ranked 59th nationally, answered with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Byrd at the No. 3 spot, but junior Misia Kedzierski was unable to pull off a comeback in a three-setter on court four, leaving Illinois' fate in the hands of a freshman. O'Connor maintained her composure, edging Jocelyn Ffriend, 7-6, 6-7(4), 6-1, to give Illinois its first road victory of the season.
"Having our freshman, Audrey, respond with such composure and play with the combination of patience and aggressiveness in such a pressure situation was huge for her growth," Dasso said. "Tomorrow, we need to match our intensity in doubles and our consistency of individual performance and energy level in singles."
The Illini will take on Furman tomorrow at 9 a.m. CT in Greenville, S.C.
#31 Illinois 4, #62 Georgia State 3
1. #29 Abigail Tere-Apisah (GSU) def. #106 Melissa Kopinski (ILL) 6-2, 6-1
2. Masa Grgan (GSU) def. Rachael White (ILL) 6-3, 6-2
3. #59 Allison Falkin (ILL) def. Whitney Byrd (GSU) 6-3, 6-1
4. Linn Timmermann (GSU) def. Misia Kedzierski (ILL) 6-3, 4-6, 6-4
5. Breanne Smutko (ILL) def. Chaimaa Roudami (GSU) 6-1, 6-0
6. Audrey O'Connor (ILL) def. Jocelyn Ffriend (GSU) 7-6, 6-7 (4), 6-1
1. #11 Melissa Kopinski/Rachael White (ILL) def. #19 Abigail Tere-Apisah/Masa Grgan (GSU) 8-4
2. Audrey O'Connor/Breanne Smutko (ILL) def. Whitney Byrd/Maryna Kozachenko (GSU) 8-3
3. Jocelyn Ffriend/Linn Timmermann (GSU) vs. Misia Kedzierski/Allison Falkin (ILL) 3-6, unfinished
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (5,1,2,3,4,6)