Women's Tennis
Illini Women Open Big Ten Play, Toss In Non-Conference Action As Well

Shivani Davé and the Illini look to open Big Ten play with a bang against No. 36 Purdue coming to town.
Shivani Davé and the Illini look to open Big Ten play with a bang against No. 36 Purdue coming to town.

Feb. 22, 2007

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. ­ - The Illinois women's tennis team opens Big Ten play this weekend when it hosts No. 36 Purdue on Friday, Feb. 23 at 6 p.m., followed by a match against Washington on Sunday, Feb. 25 at 11 a.m. The Illini are looking to end a two-match skid and begin the conference season off on a bang against one of the top teams in the league.

"The team is just excited and ready to get back on the courts," head coach Michelle Dasso said. "After a week off, we can't wait to competed again and open Big Ten play against Purdue."

Behind Northwestern (6), Michigan (24) and Indiana (29), the Boilermakers come in as the fourth highest-ranked Big Ten team and will be looking to keep their conference championship chances alive when they come into Champaign. As for the Huskies, Washington has yet to claim a victory, a fact that Illini hope to keep true at the conclusion of the weekend.

The Illinois women's tennis team is looking to get back on track this weekend when they face No. 36 Purdue in its Big Ten opener on Friday, Feb. 23, followed by a non-conference matchup against Washington on Sunday, Feb. 25. The Illini look to welcome back freshman Megan Fudge to the lineup after a brief hiatus due to injury. The Kaarst, Germany native returns to take on the challenge at No. 1 singles and reunites with senior Emily Wang at No. 1 doubles. Fudge leads the Orange and Blue with a 14-7 singles record, while the duo of Fudge and Wang are still winless in dual competition.

The Illinois women's tennis team has faced one of the toughest schedules in the country to date, battling the likes of then No. 1 Georgia Tech and then No. 4 Notre Dame in the early weeks of the season. Notre Dame is currently ranked second in the nation, while the Yellow Jackets have dropped third, but are still receiving one vote for the top spot. Overall, the Illini have faced four teams ranked in the top 50, three in the top 25. The trend continues as they take on No. 36 Purdue on Friday.

The long rivalry between Purdue and Illinois started in 1974 and the Boilermakers own a 26-19 edge over the Illini during that span. The last time the two teams met was in 2006 when then No. 32 Purdue walked away with a 6-1 victory in West Lafayette.

Illinois is winless against Washington (0-4), and will be battling for their first victory over the Huskies in the two team's fifth meeting on the courts. The first time the two teams met came in 2001, while in their last meeting then No. 8 Washington edged the Orange and Blue, 6-1, in Seattle.

Illinois opens the Big Ten season with its match against Purdue, an opponent the Illini have battled twice before. Since the start of the season, the Orange and Blue have stared at a Boilermaker opponent once at the ITA Midwest Regional Championship and again when they hosted the 2007 Midwest Blast.

Overall, while the teams have prior meetings this season, the air of Big Ten play makes this matchup that much more important.

Purdue and Illinois have played two common opponents, Tennessee and William & Mary. The Lady Vols beat the Boilermakers, 4-3, and Illinois, 7-0. The Tribe also downed the Illini, 6-1, and Purdue, 5-2. To date, the Illini and Huskies have not faced any of the same opponents.

The Huskies have been on a tough road so far this season and are without a win on the young campaign at 0-7. UW also is playing one of the toughest schedules in the country, as every one of its opponents are ranked in the latest ITA poll, except for Gonzaga and Illinois.

Plagued with injuries, the Huskies also have had to bobble their lineup around as the Illini have done since briefly losing freshman Megan Fudge to a foot injury, and are still missing another top racquet in freshman Leigh Finnegan, also suffering from a foot injury. Both teams, despite the injuries, look to come out of the match the victor on Sunday.