Women's Tennis
Illini Head to Ohio State, Penn State this Weekend

The Illini will travel to Ohio State on Friday and Penn State on Sunday.
The Illini will travel to Ohio State on Friday and Penn State on Sunday.

April 11, 2013

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Fighting Illini women's tennis team (10-9, 3-4 Big Ten) will hit the road for a pair of Big Ten contests this weekend, taking on Ohio State (10-9, 3-4) on Friday at 1:30 p.m. CT in Columbus, Ohio, and Penn State (13-4, 3-4) on Sunday at 9 a.m. in University Park, Pa.

Illinois is 32-13 all-time against Ohio State and has won five of the last six matches with the Buckeyes. The Orange and Blue notched a 4-3 win over OSU last season in Urbana. Sophomore Melissa Kopinski clinched the victory in 2012, and sophomore Allison Falkin picked up a singles win as well.

The Illini boast a 20-2 all-time mark against Penn State and are coming off a 5-2 home victory over the Nittany Lions in last season's contest. Falkin and senior Rachael White helped secure the win with singles victories. Illinois' only losses to Penn State came in 2006 and 2007.

The Buckeyes checked in at No. 62 in this week's national rankings and are 10-9 overall and 3-4 in the Big Ten, which is identical to Illinois' record. Ohio State is coming off a 5-2 road win over Minnesota last weekend. The squad features one ranked singles player, No. 45 Kelsey Dieters.

The Nittany Lions are ranked 38th in the nation and boast a 13-4 record and 3-4 mark in the Big Ten. Penn State is coming off a 7-0 shutout against Wisconsin last weekend in Madison. The roster includes a ranked singles player, No. 67 Petra Januskova, who also is ranked in doubles, checking in at No. 49 alongside Chelsea Utting.

The Illini dropped five spots to No. 59 in the latest national team rankings after a 6-1 loss to Michigan and a 6-1 win over Michigan State last weekend. Senior Rachael White and sophomore Melissa Kopinski fell six spots to No. 27 in doubles, while Kopinski climbed back into the singles rankings this week, checking in at No. 117.

The Fighting Illini recovered after last Saturday's loss to No. 8 Michigan by capturing a convincing 6-1 victory over Michigan State Sunday afternoon at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex. Illinois secured the doubles point and won five singles matches en route to its third conference win of the season.

The Illini are 9-1 when winning the doubles point and are 1-8 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 the Illinois Ticket Office at 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.

The Orange and Blue will wrap up the regular season next weekend with a pair of Big Ten showdowns. Illinois will travel to Indiana on April 19 to face the Hoosiers at 2 p.m. CT in Bloomington and will return to Urbana to host Purdue on April 21 at Noon at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex. The match against the Boilermakers will serve as Senior Day. The Illini will honor seniors Rachael White and Breanne Smutko prior to the contest.