April 3, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Fighting Illini women's tennis team (9-8, 2-3 Big Ten) will look to extend its three-match winning streak in a pair of Big Ten matches this weekend at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex, welcoming No. 8 Michigan (13-4, 4-1) on Saturday at Noon CT and Michigan State (10-10, 0-5) on Sunday at 11 a.m.
Illinois is 11-27 all-time against Michigan and has lost its last 10 meetings with the Wolverines, dating back to 2005. The Illini suffered a 6-1 loss to Michigan last year in the regular season and a 4-0 loss in the semifinal round of the Big Ten Tournament. The Wolverines handed Illinois two losses during the Illini's 12-2 stretch in 2012.
The Illini boast a 29-10 all-time mark against Michigan State and are on a five-match winning streak against the Spartans, including a 7-0 victory over MSU in last season's meeting.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
Michigan checks in at No. 8 in the nation and is 13-4 overall and 4-1 in the Big Ten going into the weekend. The Wolverines are coming off a 5-2 loss to Indiana, and their other three losses were to teams in the top 15. The squad highlighted its season with a 4-3 win over then-No. 2 Duke on March 1 in Ann Arbor. Michigan's roster features two ranked duos - No. 2 Brooke Bolender and Emina Bektas and No. 49 Ronit Yurovsky and Sarah Lee. Bektas, Yurovsky and Lee also are ranked in singles, checking in at No. 29, No. 39 and No. 76, respectively.
Michigan State is 10-10 overall and 0-5 in the conference after suffering a 5-2 loss to then-No. 17 Purdue last weekend. The Spartans have lost their last seven matches and have not won since securing a 5-2 win over Florida International on March 7 in Miami.
The Illini will host Campus Kids' Day on Saturday during and after the match against the Wolverines. The festivities will include free peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and children will have the opportunity to decorate their own sugar cookies. The Orange and Blue will host a clinic for kids (eighth grade and under) following the match.
CAMPBELL/ITA NATIONAL RANKINGS
The Illini dropped two spots to No. 54 in the latest national team rankings despite winning three matches last weekend. Meanwhile, senior Rachael White and sophomore Melissa Kopinski are ranked No. 21 in doubles.
LAST TIME OUT
The Fighting Illini captured two wins last Sunday at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex, earning a 5-2 victory over Minnesota and a 6-0 shutout against Chicago State. Senior Rachael White, junior Allison Falkin and sophomore Melissa Kopinski each went 3-0 on the day, while Kopinski posted a pair of 6-0, 6-0 wins and dropped only one game throughout her entire three matches. The Illini have won three straight after ending a four-match losing streak last Friday.
DECIDING BY DOUBLES
The Illini are 8-1 when winning the doubles point and are 1-7 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.
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 visit the NCAA volunteer site to sign up with their availability and interests.
The Orange and Blue will hit the road next weekend, making a stop in Columbus, Ohio, for a match with Ohio State on April 12 at 1:30 p.m. CT, before traveling to University Park, Pa., for a battle with Penn State on April 14 at 9 a.m. CT.