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    Illini Set to Host Final Home Matches of Regular Season
    Illinois will honor seniors Leigh Finnegan and Annie McCarthy prior to the start of Sunday's match.

    Illinois will honor seniors Leigh Finnegan and Annie McCarthy prior to the start of Sunday's match.

    April 13, 2011

    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illini women's tennis team (8-9, 4-2 Big Ten) will host its final home matches of the regular season this weekend against No. 10 Michigan (17-3, 7-0) on Friday at 4 p.m. and Michigan State (12-8, 1-6) on Sunday at noon at Atkins Tennis Center. Illinois will look to snap a seven-match skid against Michigan dating back to 2005. The Wolverines claimed last year's battle in Ann Arbor, 5-2, and lead the all-time series, 24-11. Against Michigan State, the Illini have won six of the last seven matches and own a 26-10 all-time series lead over the Spartans.

    Live scoring will be available for both matches HERE.

    Michigan remained at No. 10 in the latest team rankings released Tuesday, while Illinois and Michigan State were not ranked. In individual rankings, sophomore Rachael White came in at No. 110 in singles and No. 25 in doubles with freshman Allison Falkin, while sophomore Breanne Smutko checked in at No. 125 in singles and No. 65 in doubles with junior Chelcie Abajian.

    Sunday's match will serve as Senior Day for this year's class of 2011 which includes Leigh Finnegan and Annie McCarthy. Through last weekend's matches, the duo has combined for 88 wins overall and 23 against Big Ten opponents during their Illini careers.

    With four Big Ten matches left heading into the weekend, both Michigan (17-3, 7-0) and Northwestern (14-5, 6-0) remain undefeated in conference play to share the top spot. Purdue (11-6, 5-2) is in third, while Illinois (8-9, 4-2) and Ohio State (11-9, 4-2) are tied for fourth and Wisconsin (11-9, 3-3) sits in sixth. Rounding out the rest is Iowa (5-12, 2-4) in seventh, Indiana (12-8, 2-5) in eighth, Penn State (6-12, 1-5) and Minnesota (5-13, 1-5) in ninth and Michigan State (12-8, 1-6) in 11th.

    Michigan, the defending Big Ten regular season champion, has cruised through conference play thus far, claiming all seven matches including four shutouts. The Wolverines have won seven straight since suffering a 4-3 loss at then-No. 6 North Carolina on March 13 and return last year's Big Ten Athlete of the Year Denise Muresan and Freshman of the Year Mimi Nguyen. Four Wolverines checked in in the latest rankings including Muresan (No. 8), Sam Critser (69), Brooke Bolender (87) and Whitney Taney (109), while in doubles, Bolender and Muresan were ninth and Taney and Rika Tatsuno were 86th.

    Michigan State has struggled as of late, as the Spartans have dropped four straight since tallying their lone Big Ten win against Indiana on March 27. Marina Bohrer leads the team with 21 wins overall and a 5-2 conference mark, while Valentina Rusakova has tallied 18 win, with 10 coming at the No. 2 spot. Bohrer and Amy Barton came in at No. 27 in doubles in the latest rankings.

    The Illini came up short at No. 16 Northwestern, 5-2, at the Vandy Christie Tennis Center last Sunday. Redshirt senior Leigh Finnegan and sophomore Breanne Smutko each collected singles wins, while Smutko also won in doubles with senior Annie McCarthy.

    Illinois nearly won the hard-fought doubles battle, as the point came down to the No. 1 spot where the 20th-ranked duo of sophomore Rachael White and freshman Allison Falkin went up 5-4 in the tiebreaker, but the Wildcats rallied back to make it 7-6, before taking the match 9-8 (8-6). In singles, Finnegan swept Nida Hamilton, 7-5, 6-2, for her first Big Ten win of the year and Smutko collected her second with a come-from-behind victory over Brittany Wowchuk, 3-6, 6-4, 1-0 (11-9).

    Illinois will close out the regular season on the road next weekend beginning at Minnesota on Friday, April 22 at 6 p.m.

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