2013-14 Season in Review
June 18, 2014
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Fighting Illini put together a solid 2013-14 campaign, going 14-10 overall and 6-6 in the Big Ten. The Illini reached as high as No. 27 in the nation, and finished the season going in to the Big Ten Tournament ranked 37th.
Freshman Alexis Casati had a breakout fall, leading the team with an 8-2 singles mark throughout tournament play. Senior Allison Falkin, a two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection, and junior Melissa Kopinski, an All-American in 2013, earned national rankings and invitations to the All-American Championships in California. Both players competed both as individual singles players and as a tandem in the doubles tournament.
Illinois opened the dual season at the Maui Invitational, where the Illini went 2-1, falling to No. 4 Georgia and No. 29 Oklahoma State. The Illini saw success early in the season, going 4-1 with wins against Saint Louis, University of Chicago, Illinois State, and No. 25 TCU.
After the early-season sucess, the Orange and Blue had a mid-season hiccup, going 2-5 and opening Big Ten play with losses to No. 8 Northwestern and No. 29 Purdue.
Following a two-week break, the Illini fought back, with handed wins over Southern Illinois, No. 31 Indiana, Penn State, and No. 54 Ohio State. Starting the win streak at No. 52 in the nation, the team climbed to No. 37 after a 6-1 home win over the Salukis, followed immediately by the 5-2 victory over the Hoosiers. Following their 6-1, 4-3 home contest wins, the Illini reached No.34 in the nation.
The Illini stumbled with road losses to Michigan State, No. 17 Michigan, and a home stand loss to Iowa to fall to No. 42 in the rankings, but closed out the regular season on a 3-match winning streak. The Orange and Blue bested Nebraska on Senior Day, and traveled to No. 59 Minnesota and Wisconsin, going 4-3 and 5-2 in their regular season closer.
The No. 37 Illini opened Big Ten Tournament play with a quick 4-0 win over Nebraska to match their season-high streak of four wins. But the Orange and Blue met fourth-seeded Purdue in the conference semifinals, and after a tight match, fell to the Boilermakers 4-2.
Individually, Alexis Casati led the squad with a 15-7 mark overall in singles, playing primarily on courts two and three. The Deerfield, Illinois native went 5-6 in the conference, ending the year at No. 17 in the Midwest region. The newcomer also boasted a doubles record of 10-10 overall and 8-7 alongside Kopinski. For her efforts, Casati was voted Advantage Illinois Most Valuable Player and Player to Watch by her teammates.
Kwong tied fellow freshman Casati in singles wins, going 15-7 on the year and 6-5 against Big Ten opponent, playing at four and five. The Toronto native went 12-7 in doubles, playing primarily with Misia Kedzierski at No. 3 with a record of 9-6. The Illini newcomer earned the team’s Most Improved award at the Advantage Illinois banquet.
Kopinski started the season ranked No. 102 in the nation and 10 in the Midwest region, earning a 13-10 singles mark at No. 3. The Palos Hills, Illinois native boasted an 11-9 doubles record overall, tying for second most wins on the team.
Senior Misia Kedzierski finished with 12 singles wins, playing primarily at Nos. 4 and 6. Kedzierski received the team Fighting Illini Spirit Award. Fellow senior Allison Falkin had 15 wins in her final season, 4 against Big Ten opponents, earning her a second team All-Big Ten selection. Falkin played doubles with both Julia Jamieson and Jerricka Boone this season, going 3-0 and 2-6, respectively.
Jerricka Boone finished dual season 11-11 overall and went 5-6 against Big Ten opponents, playing primarily at No. 5. Jamieson ended the year with a record of 3-1 in dual play in the No. 6 spot. Sophomore Emily Barretta split her season 1-1 at No. 6, playing only one doubles match with Jamieson.
The Orange and Blue squad ended the season ranked 45th in the nation and fifth in the region.