March 25, 2006
UNIVERSITRY PARK, Pa. - The 59th-ranked Fighting Illini women's tennis team lost a 4-3 decision to Penn State on Friday night. The Illini fall to 5-8 and 0-2 in the conference. Illinois dropped the doubles point, but tough three set losses at Nos. 5 and 6 ended the Orange and Blue's hopes of a road victory.
"We lost a heartbreaker," head coach Sujay Lama said. "I'm really disappointed that we lost because we had our opportunities and didn't capitalize. But give Penn State credit, they played at home with a lot of enthusiasm and emotion and they were hungry. We just couldn't execute when it really mattered. I think our youth showed and it will be a good learning experience when the situation arises again. We're going to try and rebound and be ready for Indiana."
The Illini's 34th-ranked tandem of junior Emily Wang and sophomore Macall Harkins were riding a three match win-streak with two of those wins coming over ITA top-10 opponents, but couldn't keep the momentum going as they fell to Sasha Abraham and Andrea Niculescu 8-6. Penn State went on to sweep the remaining doubles tilts and take the decisive 1-0 advantage going into singles.
Senior captain Brianna Knue won her match decisively at No. 4 with a 6-4, 6-1 defeat of Jenny Shular. Illinois got two hard fought wins at the top of the lineup as Harkins downed Abraham 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4 at No. 1 and sophomore Momei Qu beat Niculescu 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 at No. 2.
The Illini needed a win from the bottom of the lineup as freshman Shivani Dave and sophomore Alejandra Meza Cuadra both took their first sets. The Fighting Illini could not pull it off though as Dave was defeated by Lauren Holzberg 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 and Cuadra was beat by Leyla Morgan 6-7(3), 6-1, 6-3.
Last year the Illini had nine matches determined by a score of 4-3 and came out on top in four of those. This season, the Illini have lost both of their matches that were decided by one point.
Illinois' road trip continues to Bloomington, Ind., where the Illini will try to get their first conference win against the No. 35 Hoosiers on Sunday at 10 a.m.
Penn State 4, No. 59 Illinois 3
1. Macall Harkins (ILL) def. Sasha Abraham (PSU); 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4
2. Momei Qu (ILL) def. Andrea Niculescu (PSU); 6-4, 2-6, 6-2
3. Katelyn BeVard (PSU) def. Emily Wang (ILL); 6-4, 6-0
4. Brianna Knue (ILL) def. Jenny Shular (PSU); 6-4, 6-1
5. Lauren Holzberg (PSU) def. Shivani Dave (ILL); 3-6, 6-2, 6-1
6. Leyla Morgan (PSU) def. Alejandra Meza Cuadra (ILL); 6-7(3), 6-1, 6-3
1. Abraham/Niculescu (PSU) def. No. 34 Harkins/Wang (ILL); 8-6
2. Shular/BeVard (PSU) def. Knue/Dave (ILL); 9-8(5)
3. Dohanics/Holzberg (PSU) def. Qu/Cuadra (ILL); 8-5