March 28, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Fighting Illini women's tennis team (6-8, 0-3 Big Ten) will return to the Atkins Tennis Center this weekend to host Wisconsin (3-11, 1-2) on Friday at 4 p.m. CT and a doubleheader on Sunday, featuring Minnesota (8-7, 2-1) at 11 a.m. and Chicago State (5-13) at 4 p.m.
Wisconsin leads the all-time series with the Illini, 23-16, but Illinois has won six of the last seven meetings between the two teams, earning a 7-0 shutout in last season's contest. The Illini boast a 25-18 all-time mark against Minnesota, defeating the Gophers, 6-1, in the regular season and 4-0 in the quarterfinal round of the Big Ten Championships last year. Sunday afternoon will mark the first-ever meeting between the Illini and Chicago State.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
Wisconsin is 3-11 overall and 1-2 in the Big Ten this season with wins over Boston University, UIC and Michigan State. The squad is coming off a 5-2 win over the Spartans last weekend in Madison, Wis. Minnesota is 8-7 overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten, boasting conference wins over Wisconsin and Michigan State. The Gophers are coming off a 6-1 loss to No. 10 Michigan in Minneapolis last weekend and will play No. 11 Northwestern this Saturday before making the trip to Urbana. Chicago State is 5-13, coming off a 4-3 win over Florida A&M two weekends ago in Orlando.
The Illini will host their final Fanta Float Friday during the Wisconsin match, offering free Orange Fanta floats to all fans. The Easter Bunny will make a special appearance on Sunday, and the Illinois marketing team will host an Easter Egg hunt.
CAMPBELL/ITA NATIONAL RANKINGS
The Illini dropped three spots to No. 52 in Tuesday's national team rankings after falling to Oklahoma State on March 19. Meanwhile, senior Rachael White and sophomore Melissa Kopinski checked in at No. 21 in the latest doubles rankings.
LAST TIME OUT
Illinois came up short in a 4-3 thriller on March 19, falling to Oklahoma State at the Del Mar Country Club in San Diego. Senior Breanne Smutko and juniors Allison Falkin and Misia Kedzierski won in singles, but it was not enough to prevent Illinois' fourth straight loss, marking the longest losing streak for the Illini since the 2007 squad closed out the season with seven consecutive losses.
DECIDING BY DOUBLES
The Illini are 6-1 when winning the doubles point and are 0-7 when losing in doubles. The Orange and Blue won four straight doubles decisions from Feb. 2-24, never losing a dual match or a doubles point throughout the entire month of February.
Fighting Illini women's tennis head coach Michelle Dasso announced on Feb. 13 the addition of two assistant coaches to her staff. Mark Denenfeld and Kelly Anderson will aid Illinois for the remainder of its 2013 campaign.
Denenfeld played at Kalamazoo College from 2009-12 and earned all-Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association honors in three of his four years. Anderson wrapped up a stellar four-year playing career at Georgia Tech in 2006. The South Africa native was named ACC Rookie of the Year in 2003 and garnered all-ACC honors in 2004. She reached as high as No. 135 in the world doubles rankings in 2008. Anderson recently earned an MBA from Campbellsville University, where she served as the assistant coach for both the men's and women's tennis teams.
Seventeen of Illinois' 23 regular season opponents were nationally ranked to start the season, and six were in the top 25. Nine other Big Ten teams cracked the initial rankings, including then-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.
HOSTING NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
The University of Illinois will host the NCAA Men's and Women's Tennis Championships for the first time in school history, May 16-27 at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex at the Atkins Tennis Center. The first six days of competition (May 16-21) will include the Round of 16 and beyond of the team championships, while the final six days (May 22-27) will feature the men's and women's 64-player singles and 32-player doubles championships.
All-session and single-day tickets are on sale now. Fans can purchase tickets by calling 866-Illini-1 or by visiting Fightingillini.com. Adult all-session tickets are $100, while youth (18 and under) all-session tickets are $75. Single-day tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for youth. Admission is free for children age two or younger. Groups of 10 or more can purchase single-day group tickets at $5 apiece by calling the Illinois Ticket Office at 866-Illini-1.
Fans also can experience the action through volunteering for the championships. Volunteer opportunities include taking tickets and court maintenance, among other activities. Those interested can go here to sign up with their availability and interests.
The Orange and Blue will wrap up a five-match homestand next weekend at the Atkins Tennis Center, welcoming Michigan on April 6 at Noon CT and Michigan State on April 7 at 11 a.m.