Oct. 24, 2004
Illinois went three-for-three today at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Midwest Regional Tournament at the University of Minnesota. Senior Cynthya Goulet moves on to tomorrow's singles quarterfinal, while the tandem of junior Brianna Knue and freshman Macall Harkins advances to the doubles championship match.
Tomorrow's matches will have a distinctly Big Ten flavor, as Goulet takes on top-ranked Cristelle Grier of Northwestern in the singles round of eight and Harkins and Knue battle the Wildcats' Grier and Audra Cohen in the doubles finale.
"I'm very excited to be playing Grier tomorrow," said Goulet. "She has great range and plays a very complete game. If I can match her aggressiveness, I think it will be a very good contest."
Goulet earned her spot opposite Grier with a 6-7, 7-6, 6-1 victory in the round of 16 this afternoon over Michigan's Elizabeth Exon.
"Cynthya had a set point in the first set, but could not convert," said UI Head Coach Sujay Lama. "Then she had four set points in the second before finally winning it. She played nearly flawless tennis in the third set to win handily. Cynthya showed great composure this afternoon; she was relentless. Even when things didn't go her way, she stayed in control. She rehabbed over the summer and didn't play much then, so it has taken a little while this fall for her to get on her game. I think it's safe to say that she's regained the form she showed last spring."
One of the surprises of the regional tournament has been the play of Knue and Harkins. Though the two had not played together before this fall semester (Harkins arrived on campus in August), they have meshed very quickly. The pair's 8-4 victory in the quarterfinals over Iowa's 23rd-ranked Megan Racette and Hillary Mintz and their 8-3 semifinal triumph over 16th-ranked Lindsay Martin and Katie McGaffigan of Wisconsin turned more than a few heads and boosted their season record to 8-1.
"Their personalities complement each other very well, as do their playing styles," said Lama, "and that, along with their hard work and coachability, has helped them develop into a strong team much faster than most new ones do. Macall has a big serve and Brianna responds well from the baseline. They're able to put a lot of pressure on their opponents."
Harkins and Knue have their work cut out for them. Grier and Cohen are not ranked as a doubles team (since Cohen is a freshman and they've recently started playing together), but are formidable, since Grier is the top-ranked singles player in the nation and Cohen has already defeated her.
The doubles final is scheduled for 9 a.m. Singles quarterfinals will be contested at 11 a.m. and the semis at 1 p.m. The singles final will take place at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.