The Illini start their home weekend Friday at 2 p.m. against St. Louis
Jan. 23, 2014
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Fighting Illini women's tennis team will host four matches at the Atkins Tennis Center this weekend, welcoming Saint Louis University (0-1) and University of Chicago (0-0) on Friday at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., respectively, and UIC (0-0) and Illinois State (0-0) on Sunday at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The Orange and Blue will face Saint Louis for the first time in program history. The Billikens finished last season with a record of 14-6.
Illinois will also face the University of Chicago tennis team for the first time on Friday. The Phoenix went 18-6 last season, making it to the NCAA quarterfinals where they lost to Claremont.
The Illini are 5-0 all-time against UIC, shutting out the Flames all but one time. The two teams last played during the 1980-81 season under head coach Linda Pecore.
The Fighting Illini lead Illinois State 29-8 in the series, playing and beating the Redbirds 5-1 in last season's home opener.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
Saint Louis went 14-6 last season, finishing 2nd of 14 at the A-10 Championship where they lost to Temple University. Natalia Yacaman led Saint Louis in singles last year, finishing with a record of 16-4 on a six-win streak. The Billikens opened its dual season at Missouri on Jan. 20 in a 1-6 loss.
Friday evening will mark the season opener for Chicago. The squad ended last season with a record of 18-6, making it to the NCAA Division III Quarterfinals. The Phoenix also sent Megan Tang and Helen Sdvizkhov to the NCAA Individual Championships, where the doubles partners were defeated by Williams College.
The UIC Flames will travel to Milwaukee to play Marquette in their season opener Saturday morning prior to facing Illinois on Sunday. The Flames went 16-6 last spring, ending against No. 11 Northwestern at the 2013 NCAA Tournament. This past Autumn, UIC claimed first place in the doubles B flight and in two singles brackets at the ITA Second Chance Regional.
Illinois State will open its dual season this Friday after going 10-13 last spring, where Wichita State ended their season at the MVC Championships. The Redbirds will face Eastern Illinois at home before heading down to Champaign on Sunday.
NEW SCORING SYSTEM
This season will see a change in format in the hopes of attracting and keeping more fans at the matches. During the first six weeks of play, doubles will be a regular set to 6, with a tiebreaker at 6-6. Singles will be best-of-three sets with a ten-point match tiebreaker in lieu of a third set. There will be no warm-up against the opponent in either singles or doubles.
Twelve of Illinois' regular season opponents are nationally ranked to start the season, and five are in the top 25. Illinois sits at No. 44 and seven other Big Ten teams crack the rankings, including No. 11 Michigan, No. 15 Northwestern, No. 25 Nebraska, No. 27 Purdue, No. 40 Indiana, No. 49 Penn State, and No. 72 Ohio State.
The Orange and Blue will travel to South Bend, Ind., next weekend to face Notre Dame Jan. 31.