Women's Tennis
No. 33 Illini Begin Dual Season on the Road

The No. 33 Illini face two tough road matches at No. 11 Tennessee and No. 26 Virginia.
The No. 33 Illini face two tough road matches at No. 11 Tennessee and No. 26 Virginia.

Jan. 21, 2010

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - After solid performances at the UCF Quad Tournament last weekend, the No. 33 Illini women's tennis team (0-0) is set to open the dual portion of its schedule this weekend, making stops at No. 11 Tennessee (0-0) on Friday at 3 p.m. and No. 26 Virginia (0-0) on Sunday at 10 a.m.

"All the girls are so thrilled to kick off our dual-match season," head coach Michelle Dasso said. "Tennessee and Virginia are very solid teams and we are looking forward to testing ourselves. The preparation, hard work and improvement we have made since the end of last season and throughout the fall will be put to the test. It's going to be a fun weekend."

Live results for the Tennessee match can be found HERE.

The Orange and Blue tallied 10 wins in singles and eight in doubles in the three-day tournament, Jan. 16-18 in Orlando, Fla., taking on opponents from No. 15 Florida State, No. 25 Alabama and host Central Florida.

Several Illini picked up a pair of victories in singles including senior Megan Fudge, who swept No. 62 Francesca Segarelli (FSU), 7-5, 6-2, and Alexis Rodriguez (UCF), 6-1, 6-1, while sophomore Chelcie Abajian topped Jenna Doerfler (UCF), 6-2, 6-3, and Paulina Bigos (ALA), 6-3, 6-0. Freshman Breanne Smutko defeated Allison Hodges (UCF), 6-3, 6-3, and Meritt Emery (ALA), 6-3, 4-6, 1-0 (10-6), and junior Marisa Lambropoulos claimed matches over Taylor Dubins (UCF), 6-3, 7-5, and Antonia Foehse (ALA), 6-2, 6-4.

In doubles action, the Illini claimed eight wins overall, including three when they teamed up with opponents from Alabama and Florida State.

After going a combined 4-2 on the weekend, Fudge was honored with this season's first Big Ten Athlete of the Week accolade for women's tennis. It was the fourth such honor of her career.

Fudge finished with a 2-1 mark in singles play, including victories over No. 62 Francesca Segarelli of Florida State, 7-5, 6-2, and Alexis Rodriguez of Central Florida, 6-1, 6-1. She also picked up a pair of victories in doubles, teaming up with Breanne Smutko to defeat Allison Hodges and Christy Core (UCF), 8-3, and partnering with Kristina Minor to top Paulina Bigos and Antonia Foehse (ALA), 8-4.

The 11th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers currently boast the No. 1 doubles team in the country in All-Americans Caitlin Whoriskey and Natalie Pluskota, who reached the semifinals at the NCAA Doubles Championships last season and finished 10-1 this past fall, including seven victories over nationally ranked opponents en route to the Riviera/ITA All-American Tournament title. Individually, Whoriskey checked in at a career-high No. 6 in singles after a team-best 11-3 mark in the fall and also claimed the singles title at the ITA Ohio Valley Regional Championships, while teammate Maria Sorbello debuted at No. 51.

The Volunteers opened their spring season last weekend at the Michigan Invitational in Ann Arbor, Mich., where they finished 5-9 in singles and 4-4 in doubles against opponents from No. 7 Miami (FL), Michigan and Washington. Whoriskey and Pluskota went 2-1 in doubles, while Whoriskey finished 1-2 in singles, falling to No. 7 Laura Vallverdu (Miami), 6-1, 6-4, and No. 36 Denise Muresan (UM), 7-5, 6-1.

Tennessee edged Illinois in last year's contest, 4-3, and leads the all-time series 15-0, dating back to the 1986-87 season.

The Illini, who own a 2-0 all-time series lead, will face the 26th-ranked Virginia Cavaliers for the first time since the 1997-98 season. Virginia began its spring season last weekend by hosting the UVa Invitational, which included No. 18 North Carolina, No. 29 LSU and No. 62 Utah. The squad finished 14-5 in singles and 5-5 in doubles over the three-day event.

No. 72 sophomore Lindsey Hardenbergh went 3-0 in singles, including a victory over No. 120 Whitney Wolf of LSU, 6-0, 2-6, 6-2, and also teamed up with Erin Vierra to defeat No. 28 Haley Hemm and Jocelyn Ffriend of North Carolina, 8-6, while the doubles duo of Emily Fraser and Jennifer Stevens also posted a 3-0 record in doubles on the weekend.

The ITA Kick-Off Weekend will get underway Jan. 30-31 at the top 15 nationally ranked teams in the final 2009 team rankings. Illinois earned the No. 3 seed at host and top-seeded Clemson and will face second-seeded Ole Miss Jan. 30 at 8 a.m. CT. The Illini will then meet the winner or loser of No. 1 Clemson and No. 4 Texas A&M on Sunday.

The 15 schools that win both of their matches at these events will be invited to play in the ITA National Team Indoor Championships hosted by the University of Wisconsin, Feb. 12-15.