Illini Take on Northwestern and Purdue in Big Ten Opening Weekend
March 6, 2014
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Fighting Illini women's tennis team will host the Northwestern Wildcats in their Big Ten opener on Saturday. The Illini and Wildcats will face off at Noon. Sunday the women will travel to West Lafayette, Ind. to battle Purdue at 11 a.m. CT.
Northwestern leads the all-time series against Illinois 8-46. In the last meeting of the two teams, the No. 8 Wildcats beat the Illini in Evanston, 2-5. The Illini last won against Northwestern during the 2003-04 season, beating the No. 7 Wildcats 4-3.
The Illini trail a close series with Purdue 28-29, last meeting during the Big Ten Championships where the Illini lost 1-4. Illinois last beat the Boilermakers during the 2011-12 season 5-2.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
Northwestern is 7-3 this spring, and 2-0 in the Big Ten. The Wildcats are coming off of a 4-3 win over No. 39 Purdue on March 8. Northwestern has faced three top-ten opponents this season, defeating No. 7 Texas A&M and No. 2 Florida.
Northwestern is currently ranked 8th in the nation as a team, with two singles players and two doubles teams in the top 50. Belinda Niu is ranked No. 37 in singles for the Wildcats and is followed by teammate Veronica Corning at No. 49. Corning is also one half of a ranked doubles team, sitting at No. 30 with her partner Alicia Barnett. The other ranked Wildcat duo is Maddie Lipp and Nida Hamilton who are ranked 44th.
The Boilermakers are 4-4 this season, and 0-1 in the Big Ten Conference having lost to Northwestern last weekend. Purdue is currently ranked 29th in the nation, with no singles or doubles players ranked.
CAMPBELL/ITA NATIONAL RANKINGS
Illinois fell in the rankings to No. 36 this week. In the regional rankings, Melissa Kopinski is No. 10 in the Midwest singles, followed by Allison Falkin and Alexis Casati at No. 14 and No. 15 respectively. Kopinski/Casati are the only doubles team for Illinois in the rankings, holding steady at No. 10 in Midwest.
LAST TIME OUT
The Illini came out of play at the Blue Gray National Tennis Classic 2-1, dropping a match to No. 14 Alabama. The Crimson Tide clinched their 4-0 win early on in the match, with one doubles and three singles matches not finishing.
The Illini bounced back to defeat Yale 4-3, with Allison Falkin having the match of the day. Falkin had a solid comeback to win 5-7, 6-1, 11-9 over Yale's Hamilton. The Illini took the doubles point quickly with wins from the Kopinski/Casati and Kedzierski/Kwong duos.
The Orange and Blue also had success over Oklahoma State. The two teams met earlier this season at the Maui Invitational, where the Illini fell 3-7. The match skipped over doubles and went straight to singles play, where three Illini went to tiebreakers. Kopinski and Kwong won 4-6, 6-3, 10-7 and 2-6, 7-5, 11-9, respectively.
Twelve of Illinois' regular season opponents were nationally ranked to start the season, and five were 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 continue their Big Ten opening weekend at Purdue on Sunday March 9 at 11 a.m. CT.