Freshman Rachael White topped two ranked opponents in her Illini debut over the weekend.
Sept. 28, 2009
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - The Illini women's tennis team opened its fall season on a high note over the weekend at the Wake Forest Fall Invitational in Winston-Salem, N.C., Sept. 25-27., competing against players from Wake Forest, Duke, Davidson, Richmond, Old Dominion and UNC-Greensboro. Junior Marisa Lambropoulos and freshman Breanne Smutko took home the doubles title, while freshman Rachael White and sophomore Amy Allin advanced to the championship rounds of their respective draws in singles play.
The duo of Lambropoulos and Smutko, playing together for the first time ever, won four-straight matches to claim the doubles title, defeating Duke's top-seeded pair of Ellah Nze and Reka Zsilinszka, 8-4 in the championship match.
"We had an exceptional weekend in doubles, which has been a huge focus of ours since the end of last season," head coach Michelle Dasso said. "(Breanne) Smutko and (Marisa) Lambropoulos beat a very tough and experienced team from Duke in the finals."
Sophomore Chelcie Abajian and senior Megan Fudge knocked off Duke's other seeded duo of Monica Gorny and Amanda Granson, 8-5, while junior Leigh Finnegan and White notched victories over Richmond's Isabel Arana and Alexandra Smyth, 8-5 and Kelly Tidwell and Joanna Matuszczyk, 8-0 and junior Annie McCarthy and Allin swept all three of their matches in doubles round robin action.
In singles play, White defeated preseason No. 57 Granson, 6-4, 6-2 and No. 13 Zsilinszka, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 in just her second and third collegiate matches, before falling in the championship match of the "A" draw to Old Dominion's No. 116 Nadine Fahoum, 6-4, 6-1.
"Rachael came up with two huge wins over ranked opponents, one of which is in the top 15 in the national rankings, which is extremely impressive," Dasso said. "For a freshman playing in her first collegiate tournament against some top, more experienced opponents, to come away with those hard-fought three-set victories was very thrilling for her and the Illini."
In the "C" draw, Allin swept three straight matches to advance to the championship match, but ultimately dropped a hard-fought battle to Wake Forest's Ryann Cutillo, 6-2, 3-6, 6-0.
The Illini are back in action this weekend at the All-American Pre-Qualifier in Pacific Palisades, Calif., beginning Oct. 3.