Women's Tennis
Illini Travel South for ITA Kick-Off Weekend

The Illini will compete in ITA Kick-Off Weekend on Sunday and Monday.
The Illini will compete in ITA Kick-Off Weekend on Sunday and Monday.

Jan. 26, 2013

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The University of Illinois women's tennis team (2-2) will travel to Oxford, Miss., this weekend to compete in the fifth annual ITA Kick-Off Weekend, hosted by Ole Miss. The second-seeded Illini will take on 25th-ranked and third-seeded Vanderbilt on Sunday at 9 a.m., followed by a showdown between 19th-ranked and top-seeded Ole Miss and fourth-seeded Yale at 2 p.m. The winners will square off on Monday at 1 p.m., and the losing teams will take the court on Monday at 8 a.m.

ITA Kick-Off Weekend features 60 schools at 15 regional sites. Each site hosts a four-team playoff for one of the 15 final spots in the 2013 ITA National Team Indoor Championships, which will take place in February at the University of Virginia. The 15 teams to win two matches at their respective sites will join automatic qualifier Virginia in the round of 16 of the national tournament. The host schools were chosen based on their finish in last year's national rankings and include UCLA, Duke, USC, Georgia, California, North Carolina, Miami, Texas, Alabama, Northwestern, Baylor, Michigan, Nebraska, Texas A&M and Ole Miss

Sunday's match will mark the season opener for No. 25 Vanderbilt, the site's third seed. The Commodores' roster includes a trio of nationally ranked singles players -- No. 91 Marie Casares, No. 102 Courtney Colton and No. 115 Frances Altick.

Host and top-seeded Ole Miss checks in at No. 19 after a 4-3 loss to William & Mary to start the season. The squad features one ranked singles player, No. 30 Caroline Rohde-Moe.

No. 28 Yale is 1-0, coming off a 7-0 win over Delaware State last Sunday. The fourth-seeded Bulldogs boast three ranked singles players, including No. 31 Blair Seideman, No. 42 Elizabeth Epstein and No. 90 Madeleine Hamilton, along with a pair of ranked duos -- No. 49 Annie Sullivan and Sarah Guzick and No. 53 Amber Li and Hanna Yu.

The Illini dropped three spots to No. 27 in the national team rankings after losses to then-No. 9 Miami and No. 19 Notre Dame. Senior Rachael White and sophomore Melissa Kopinski are ranked 11th in doubles, while junior Allison Falkin is ranked 59th and Kopinski 106th in singles.

The Fighting Illini came up short to then-No. 19 Notre Dame in a 4-3 heartbreaker last Sunday at the Atkins Tennis Center. Senior Rachael White, junior Misia Kedzierski and sophomore Melissa Kopinski won in singles to give Illinois its three points.

Seventeen of Illinois' 22 regular season opponents were nationally ranked to start the season, and six were in the top 25. Nine other Big Ten teams cracked the rankings, including No. 13 Northwestern, No. 16 Michigan, No. 17 Nebraska, No. 27 Purdue, No. 41 Minnesota, No. 49 Indiana, No. 50 Penn State, No. 57 Ohio State and No. 75 Wisconsin.

The Orange and Blue will return to action next weekend, taking on Georgia State on Saturday at 9 a.m. CT in Atlanta and Furman on Sunday at 9 a.m. in Greenville, S.C.