Illini Dominate Doubles, Tiebreaks on Day One of Midwest Blast
Nov. 1, 2013
URBANA, Ill. - The Fighting Illini women's tennis team wrapped up the first day of the three-day Midwest Blast on Friday night, going 5-1 in doubles action and 4-3 in singles. In addition to its nearly perfect doubles record, the Illini went 5-1 in tiebreakers over the course of the day.
"The identity of our team was shaped tonight," head coach Michelle Dasso said. "Gutsy performances across the board. A gutsy performance from No. 1 singles player Melissa Kopinski, who was battling the flu, and a gutsy performance from our recruited walk-on, Emily Barretta, who dug in and won with her back against the wall. I have so much respect for my team right now. The heart and hustle was there. I'm so proud of them. We're going to bring that day-in and day-out."
The Orange and Blue sent out three doubles teams that had not previously competed together, and all three came through. Illinois started the day with a doubles sweep of Missouri. Allison Falkin and Jerricka Boone won 8-5 at No. 1 doubles against Cassidy Spearman and Cierra Gayton-Leach of Missouri. At No. 2 doubles, returning All-American Melissa Kopinski and freshman Alexis Casati cruised to an 8-4 win over Elisha Gabb and Rachel Stuhlmann. Julia Jamieson and Louise Kwong flew to an 8-3 win at No. 3 doubles.
Boone and Falkin pushed the No. 12 ranked doubles tandem nationally to the brink in the second round of doubles matchups, but Krisztina Kapitany and Mara Schmidt were strong down the stretch in an 8-5 win. Kopinski and Casati picked up right where they left off and cruised to another easy win, this time 8-3 over Daniela Vidal and Lynda Xepoleas. Jamieson and Kwong came from behind on No. 3 doubles and won a tiebreaker to secure an 8-7 (4) win.
In singles action against Wake Forest, the Illini would build on Jamieson and Kwong's tiebreak win and win four more tiebreaks. At No. 1 singles, Melissa Kopinski, who was battling the flu, stormed back from match point in the third set to force and win a tiebreak, 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (5). At No. 2 singles, Falkin dropped the first set but stormed back to win the match 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.
Illini freshmen Casati and Boone both lost in straight-sets on courts three and four, respectively, the but third Illini freshman, Louise Kwong, battled back from a first-set deficit to win in straight sets, 7-5, 7-6 (0). Walk-on Emily Baretta lost the first set 0-6. After forcing a tiebreak in the second set, Barretta found herself on the wrong side of a quadruple match point, trailing 1-6. Barretta then reeled off seven straight points to win the set and 10 of 14 points in the super-tiebreak to win the match.
The Midwest Blast continues Nov. 2-3 at the Atkins Tennis Center. Saturday's action starts at 9 a.m. CT. After facing Wake Forest in singles action Friday night, the Illini will turn around and face the Demon Deacons in doubles play tomorrow at 9 a.m. At 1 p.m., the Illini will face Missouri in singles.