Freshman Leigh Finnegan returns to singles play at the 2007 ITA Midwest Regional Championships.
Oct. 17, 2007
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois women's tennis team is set to begin action at the 2007 Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Midwest Regional Championships hosted on the campus of the University of Michigan at the Varsity Tennis Center Oct. 18-23. The regionals are back in Ann Arbor, Mich., for the first time since 2000 and will include eight Illini vying for a Midwest title in either singles or doubles.
"In the year-plus I have been here as the head coach at Illinois, this is the most prepared I have felt my team has been for a tournament," head coach Michelle Dasso said. "It is a great feeling. The girls have been busting it in practice, are well conditioned and I am confident in each and every one of them."
Filling the Illini roster for the weekend in the qualifying bracket will sophomores Leigh Finnegan and Kristina Minor and freshmen Candy Graetz, Marisa Lambropoulos and Annie McCarthy. Illini competitors in the main draw include Shivani Davé, No. 120-ranked Megan Fudge and Momei Qu.
Play begins for the qualifying draw participants on Thursday, with McCarthy facing Véronique Parke Bédard of Illinois State on court seven, while the qualifying bracket's top-seed Lambropoulos takes on Maha Guirguis of Toledo on court six, both tilts will start at 9 a.m. Finnegan, who faces Sandra Wikstrom of Eastern Michigan as the second match on court seven, will be joined by Graetz against Ilinca Cristescu of Illinois-Chicago, who also is the second match scheduled, her match taking place on court six. Minor rounds out the morning's Illini contests as the third match on court seven, as she is set to play Jessica Seyferth of Wisconsin, the qualifying bracket's fifth seed.
Round two of qualifying is tentatively set for a 12:30 p.m. start, with the winners of the first round advancing towards the eight spots that earn a berth into the main draw, while the losers will fall back into the qualifying bracket's consolation draw.
In the doubles main draw - bracket will be released on Thursday - Illinois boasts Finnegan and Fudge, McCarthy and Lambropoulos and Graetz and Minor as its three doubles tandems for the weekend.
Seventeen ITA Regional Championships for NCAA Division I men and women are taking place over the next week at campuses throughout the country. The singles finalists and doubles champion from each regional event will earn spots in the 2007 ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships, which Ohio State University will host Nov. 1-4 at the Racquet Club of Columbus in Columbus, Ohio.
In last year's Regional Championships, then-freshman Fudge became the first Illini to make it past the quarters since Jennifer McGaffigan did it in 2003. Fudge was the only semifinalist to work her way out of the qualifying draw into the main draw. Over the course of the tournament, Fudge played a total of eight matches, going 7-1 in that stretch, including downing then No. 5-8-seeded Randi Schuler of Purdue to advance to the semifinals.
"This tournament is a chance for us to show the rest of the region what Illinois tennis is all about," Dasso said. "I am less concerned about the results and more concerned with how we compose ourselves, the fight we show in each and every match and whether or not we put into action what we've been working on in practice."
Fans can visit ITA Tennis or ITA Midwest Regional Championships for live scoring and results throughout the tournament, while a full recap of each day's action for the Illini will be available at fightingillini.com.
Thursday, Oct. 18
9 a.m. -- First and second rounds of singles qualifying
Friday, Oct. 19
8:30 a.m. -- Final round of singles qualifying
2 p.m. -- First and second rounds of doubles main draw
Saturday, Oct. 20
9 a.m. -- Third round of doubles main draw
Followed by -- First and second rounds of singles main draw
Sunday, Oct. 21
9 a.m. -- Quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of doubles main draw
Not before 1 p.m. -- Third round of singles main draw
Monday, Oct. 22
9 a.m. -- Doubles main draw championship match
11 a.m. -- Singles main draw quarterfinals
2 p.m. -- Singles main draw semifinals
Tuesday, Oct. 23
10 a.m. -- Singles main draw championship match