Illinois Drops 5-2 Decision at #8 Northwestern
March 2, 2013
EVANSTON, Ill. - The Fighting Illini women's tennis team (6-5) suffered a 5-2 loss to No. 8 Northwestern (7-4) Saturday at the Combe Tennis Center, ending a four-match winning streak. Sophomore Melissa Kopinski knocked off a nationally ranked opponent at the top spot, while junior Allison Falkin extended her streak to five singles wins.
"The doubles point could have gone either way," head coach Michelle Dasso said. "And we were competitive in five of our six singles matches. We are right there knocking on the door of big-time wins but need an intense emotional commitment with every ounce of each individual in order to achieve that."
The Illini lost a tight doubles battle to relinquish their first doubles point in five matches. Senior Rachael White and Kopinski, the 22nd-ranked duo in the nation, put up a fight on court one but could not pull off the upset against No. 8 Nida Hamilton and Linda Mushrefova, coming up short in a 9-8(2) heartbreaker. Senior Breanne Smutko and freshman Audrey O'Connor were in the midst of an 8-8 thriller at the No. 2 spot when the Wildcats clinched the point.
In singles, the Illini dropped the first four completed matches, putting themselves in danger of a shutout. Falkin managed to put the Orange and Blue on the board with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Veronica Corning on court two, and Kopinski followed up with a come-from-behind win on court one, taking down No. 55 Kate Turvy, 3-6, 6-3, (10-3).
"Allison is 100 pounds of pure heart and fire," Dasso said. "And Melissa had a huge singles win that will do loads for her confidence. Breanne has shown such tremendous emotional maturity over the course of her career, and I am proud to watch her compete for the Orange and Blue. I hope we can take confidence from this match, use it to fuel us more and get it done the next time opportunity comes our way."
The Orange and Blue will be back in action next weekend, continuing a stretch of five road matches with two Big Ten contests. The Illini will battle Nebraska on Friday at 5 p.m. CT in Lincoln and Iowa on Sunday at Noon in Iowa City.
#8 Northwestern 5, #33 Illinois 2
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1); Singles (3,6,4,5,2,1)