Junior Shivani Davé and the No. 68 Illini hit the road to face No. 48 Washington.
Feb. 14, 2008
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The No. 68 Illinois women's tennis team returns to the courts this weekend as they travel to Seattle, Wash., to take on the No. 48-ranked University of Washington Huskies on Sunday, Feb. 17, at the Mercer Island Country Club at 2 p.m. CT, noon local time, in Mercer Island, Wash. The Huskies, who will be away from their home courts this weekend because the Nordstrom Tennis Center is hosting the 2008 ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championship, are looking to defend a six-match winning streak, its best since the 2003-04 season.
"We lost a 4-3 heartbreaker to Washington last year, so this weekend represents a great opportunity to seek a little revenge," head coach Michelle Dasso said about the challenge. "The girls should be confident in themselves from their performance this past weekend and hopefully can carry that confidence with them into Washington. We need to be prepared and willing to battle each and every time we step on the court."
Illinois' match on the road cannot be followed through live scoring, but a full release will be available as soon as results are reported on the official home of Illinois women's tennis, fightingillini.com.
STATE OF THE ILLINI
The Illinois women's tennis team broke into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Tennis Rankings for the first time this week since the 2005-06 season, following a convincing 6-1 upset of then-No. 60 DePaul and a 5-2 win over Kansas. Illinois is now 4-3 on the season, with two of its losses coming to top-25 teams Tennessee and Florida State, while its third was a slim 4-3 loss at the hands of No. 62 Western Michigan.
Illinois is led by the efforts of sophomore Megan Fudge, who leads the team in wins with an overall record of 13-6, 5-2 at the No. 1 position. Freshman Marisa Lambropoulos trails the sophomore with 11 wins on the year, followed by junior Shivani Davé, who has amassed 10 victories in 2008. In doubles, the duo of Fudge and redshirt freshman Leigh Finnegan head the Illini lineup, posting a 12-9 record and a 4-3 mark at the No. 1 doubles slot.
ILLINOIS VS. WASHINGTON HISTORY
This will be the sixth straight year the two teams have met since first facing each other in 2003 during the NCAA Seattle Regionals. Washington has owned the five previous meetings over Illinois and leads the all-times series, 5-0. Last season, the two teams met for a grueling marathon at the Nordstrom Tennis Center, with the Huskies pulling out the slim 4-3 dual, securing their first win of the 2006-07 season in the victory. Illinois hopes to turn the tables this year, meeting in Seattle for the fifth time during the two's young series, with their only meeting in Urbana, Ill., coming in 2004.
SCOUTING THE HUSKIES
Washington has stormed out to a daunting 6-1 record on the season, including winning their last six straight after dropping their opener to No. 56 Sacramento State (4-3). The Huskies ran their winning streak to six two weeks ago, outscoring Portland, San Diego State, and Gonzaga by a combined 19-2 score. The convincing 6-1 win over the 46th-ranked Aztecs was the biggest win of the weekend, and one of the biggest this year along with their upset of BYU. The Huskies won five singles matches against San Diego State, with the clincher provided by Joyce Ardies (UW), a 7-5, 6-2 win over Esther Cadua (SDSU) at No. 4 singles. Tara Simpson (UW) outlasted Eliska Krausova (SDSU) at No. 3 singles, 7-6, 2-6, 6-4, to end the match.
In the Huskies most recent outing, they swept the Bulldogs of Gonzaga on Feb. 3. Melinda Wong and Aleksandra Krsljanin of Washington stepped into the singles lineup at No. 5 and 6, respectively, and each scored routine wins in the dual.
FUDGE NAMED BIG TEN PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Sophomore Megan Fudge of the No. 68 Illinois women's tennis team was named Big Ten Player of the Week for the week ending Feb. 11, announced the conference office on Wednesday. Fudge is the first Illini women's tennis athlete to garner the accolade since Macall Harkins on April 19, 2006.
Fudge's pivotal play helped the Illini upset their first ranked opponent since the 2005-06 season. The Orange and Blue upended No.60 DePaul on Feb. 8, convincingly, 6-1. Fudge and the Illini wrapped up the winning weekend by downing Kansas, 5-2, on Feb. 10. With the wins, Illinois has now won two straight matches twice this season, the first coming when they opened the season 2-0.
ILLINI EARN NATIONAL RANKING
The Illinois women's tennis team, fresh off its upset of No. 60 DePaul on Friday, Feb. 8, debuted in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Tennis rankings at No. 68, the ITA announced in its Feb. 12 edition of the rankings. The Illini have not dropped a match this season to an unranked opponent, and their upset of the Blue Demons (6-1) is hopefully only a start to what head coach Michelle Dasso sees as the goals for this season. This is the first time the Illini have appeared in the ITA polls since March 28, 2006, when they came in at No. 70.
The Illini continue their longest stretch of away matches of the season when they open Big Ten play at Purdue on March 8 and then take on Big East foe Notre Dame on Feb. 12. The Illini then hit the airways to travel to Puerto Rico for the Spring Break holiday, taking on North Carolina on March 16 and Princeton on March 21. The Illini finally return home to host Michigan State on March 23.