Illini Down Minnesota, Chicago State on Sunday
March 31, 2013
URBANA, Ill. - The Fighting Illini women's tennis team (9-8, 2-3 Big Ten) captured two wins on Sunday at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex, earning a 5-2 victory over Minnesota (8-9, 2-3) and a 6-0 shutout against Chicago State (5-14). Senior Rachael White, junior Allison Falkin and sophomore Melissa Kopinski each went 3-0 on the day, while Kopinski posted a pair of 6-0, 6-0 wins and dropped only one game throughout her entire three matches. The Illini have now won three straight after ending a four-match losing streak on Friday.
Illinois played outside in Urbana for the first time this season, and the second match featured an experimental format, which included one doubles and four singles contests.
"This weekend was huge for us," head coach Michelle Dasso said. "We needed some wins, and we got them. Our confidence will increase from these three matches, and we learned quite a bit this weekend and really gutted it out. Everyone stepped up. This next month is crunch time, and we have to be ready to go from here on."
In the opening match, the Illini got off to a strong start by capturing the doubles point. No. 21-ranked duo White and Kopinski led off with an 8-1 win over Natalia Pintusava and Tereza Brichacova on court one, but the Gophers bounced back on court two to even the doubles score. Juniors Misia Kedzierski and Falkin maintained their composure and finished off an 8-4 victory over Paula Rincon Otero and Yuliana Umanets on court three to give Illinois a 1-0 advantage heading into singles action.
Kopinski notched a quick 6-0, 6-0 win over Brichacova at the No. 2 singles spot, and Falkin followed with an almost equally efficient 6-3, 6-0 victory over Pintusava at the top spot to put Illinois one win away from its second straight win.
Minnesota managed to delay the Illinois victory and get on the scoreboard with a win on court six, but White crawled back from a first-set loss to earn a 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 decision over Jessika Mozia on court four to seal the Orange and Blue win. The Illini split the remaining two matches with a 4-6, 6-3, (10-6) victory by Breanne Smutko at the No. 3 spot and a loss by Kedzierski at No. 5.
The second match of the day featured one doubles and four singles matches played simultaneously. All five matches were best of three sets. The doubles match was worth two points, while each singles match was worth one point. The Illini used the same format against Illinois State earlier this season.
Illinois earned its second shutout victory of the season with straight-set wins on all five courts to take down Chicago State.
Kopinski and White played doubles and captured a convincing 6-0, 6-0 win over Sabrine Navarro and Mysta Townsell to give Illinois an early 2-0 lead. Falkin cruised to a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Marnie Perez-Ochoa at No. 1 singles, and sophomore Julia Jamieson notched a 6-3, 6-1 win over Ruta Grinvalde at the No. 3 spot.
"It's exciting to be home two weekends in a row," Dasso said. "We're playing Michigan next weekend, and they're one of the most talented teams in the Big Ten. We need to bring spirit and play to win, but if we can snag that doubles point and keep it close in the first sets of singles, anything can happen, especially this year in college tennis."
The Orange and Blue will wrap up a five-match homestand next weekend at the Atkins Tennis Center, welcoming Michigan on April 6 at Noon CT and Michigan State on April 7 at 11 a.m.
#52 Illinois 5, Minnesota 2
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (2,1,6,4,5,3)
#52 Illinois 6, Chicago State 0
Order of finish: Doubles (1); Singles (1,3,4,2)