#18 Illini End Season with 4-3 Loss to Rice
May 11, 2012
OXFORD, Miss. - The 18th-ranked Fighting Illini women's tennis team (18-8) came up just short in a 4-3 heartbreaker to No. 39 Rice (17-8) on Friday afternoon at Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center, ending its 2012 campaign. The Orange and Blue won in doubles, while seniors Amy Allin and Chelcie Abajian won in singles, but it was not enough for the Illini, who finished the season on a 12-3 run and with their highest ranking since being ranked 17th in 2003.
"We had a great season, and it's unfortunate to see it end today," head coach Michelle Dasso said. "But I don't want it to take away from the many strides we made this year and all the work my three seniors have put into their careers. I honestly thought I had my team prepared and ready to make a run, but the responsibility lies on me as the leader of this program for our premature exit. We are going to hold our heads high and focus on the positive direction our program is headed."
The Illini captured the doubles point with wins on courts one and three after falling on court two. Senior Chelcie Abajian and sophomore Allison Falkin took an 8-2 win over Kim Anicete and Stephanie Nguyen at the No. 3 spot, while No. 69 duo senior Marisa Lambropoulos and freshman Melissa Kopinski clinched the point with an 8-5 victory over No. 26 Natalie Beazant and Dominique Harmath at No. 1.
Illinois could not maintain its momentum in singles play, however, losing four of its six matches. Abajian cruised to a 6-0, 6-0 win over Daniela Trigo at the No. 6 spot, before the Illini dropped the next two completed contests to even the score at two points apiece. Senior Amy Allin battled back with a swift 6-1, 6-2 win at No. 4, but the Orange and Blue could not hold on, falling on courts two and five.
"I'd like to credit Rice for never letting up," Dasso said.
The Illini kicked off its best stretch of the season with a 5-1 win over Rice on March 19, winning 11 of their next 12 matches.
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (6,1,3,4,2,5)