Senior Rachael White and sophomore Melissa Kopinski will open the season for the Illini this weekend at the Duke Fab Four Invite.
Sept. 13, 2012
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Fighting Illini senior Rachael White and sophomore Melissa Kopinski will travel to Cary, N.C., this weekend to open the fall schedule at the Duke Fab Four Invitational, Sept. 14-16. The pair will take on competition from Duke, Texas, North Carolina, Alabama, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Purdue, Miami, Yale, William & Mary and Furman.
"The Duke Invite is one of the most elite fall tournaments of the year," head coach Michelle Dasso said. "So it will certainly be a challenge for Rachael and Melissa right off the bat. Each match they play will be beneficial, regardless of the outcome. I'm excited to see their chemistry in doubles play."
The tournament will feature three draws of 16 players in singles action and will guarantee four matches to each player. Doubles play will consist of three draws of eight teams each and will allow each duo to play three matches, regardless of results.
Kopinski checks in at a career-high No. 80 in the national preseason singles rankings after a stellar debut season that earned her first-team All-Big Ten recognition in spring 2012. She and White, a 2011 all-conference honoree, will look to set the pace for a solid season for the Orange and Blue.
In addition to Kopinski and White, Illinois returns four letterwinners, including senior Breanne Smutko, junior and 2012 first-team All-Big Ten selection Allison Falkin, classmate Misia Kedzierski and sophomore Julia Jamieson. Freshman Audrey O'Connor will also look to contribute throughout the season.
"This year, we're really looking for upperclassmen to step up and take on some leadership roles," Dasso said. "I believe in each of our girls right now. We only have seven players, but that means a lot of individual attention and a lot of opportunities for each girl. The challenge is set for them, and we are excited to see how they respond."
The Illini will host two tournaments this fall at Atkins Tennis Center, welcoming teams to the USTA/ITA Midwest Regional, Oct. 18-23, and Midwest Blast, Nov. 2-4.