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    Illini Close Out Tripleheader with Wisconsin Friday Night
    The No. 31 Illini host Wisconsin Friday night at 7 p.m.

    The No. 31 Illini host Wisconsin Friday night at 7 p.m.

    March 18, 2010

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Following a week off, the Illini women's tennis team (6-6, 1-1 Big Ten) returns home to host Big Ten foe Wisconsin on Friday, March 19 at Atkins Tennis Center, following two men's matches earlier in the day. Illinois extended its season-best winning streak to three matches with a 6-1 win at then-No. 28 Indiana on March 12.

    "Anytime you have the opportunity to play a Big Ten opponent at home, it stirs a certain level of excitement and enthusiasm amongst our team," head coach Michelle Dasso said. "The girls will play with the same passion they have all year and would love to kick off our spring break on a high note."

    The Illini picked up their first conference win of the season March 12, handing then-No. 28 Indiana its third straight loss with a 6-1 defeat at the IU Tennis Center. Illinois swept all three doubles matches and claimed five of six singles matches, while junior Leigh Finnegan clinched the win with her fifth straight victory.

    Illinois wasted no time getting ahead in doubles, as the 46th-ranked tandem of Finnegan and senior Megan Fudge topped Leslie Hureau and Myriam Sopel, 8-4, before junior Marisa Lambropoulos and freshman Breanne Smutko sealed the point with an 8-1 win over Maria Guerreiro and Charlotte Martin. Sophomore Chelcie Abajian and freshman Rachael White completed the sweep with a big victory over No. 24 Lindsey Stuckey and Evgeniya Vertesheva, 8-5. The momentum carried over into singles, where Abajian and Smutko cruised to straight-set victories before Finnegan clinched the win with a 6-4, 6-2 defeat of Stuckey. Lambropoulos added a victory at No. 3 singles and Fudge won by retirement at the top spot.

    In the latest rankings released March 16, Megan Fudge checked in at N¬o. 119 and in doubles, Fudge and Leigh Finnegan were ranked at No. 55.

    Wisconsin (5-9, 0-1 Big Ten) struggled in the early going, dropping seven of its first nine matches, but the Badgers have bounced back to win three of their last five matches including a 5-2 victory over then-No. 74 Miami (OH) on March 14 for their first win of the season over a ranked opponent.

    Freshman Hannah Berner has made an immediate impact in the lineup thus far for Wisconsin, as she currently owns a team-best 16-6 record overall and 10-4 in dual matches. Sophomore Angela Chupa, who has seen the most time at the No. 1 spot, has struggled as of late, with a 7-13 record overall and 2-8 in duals.

    Wisconsin leads the all-time series with Illinois, 21-14, though the Illini claimed last year's contest in Madison, 6-1.

    The Illini will hit the road for two matches next week beginning at No. 22 South Carolina on Wednesday, March 24 at 1 p.m. CT.

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