Women's Tennis
Illini to Host Midwest Blast

Freshman Alexis Casati leads the Illini in singles wins this year with six.
Freshman Alexis Casati leads the Illini in singles wins this year with six.

Oct. 31, 2013

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The University of Illinois women's tennis team is set to host the Midwest Blast from Nov. 1-3 at the Atkins Tennis Center. The tournament is the only Illini home event of the fall and will feature Missouri, Purdue and Wake Forest. Admission is free.

Illinois is hosting the Midwest Blast for the second year in a row and the 12th time overall. Purdue and Wake Forest are returning to the Blast for a second-straight year. The format is a hidden dual meet; each team will compete against every other team in both singles and doubles. Singles and doubles play against an individual team will take place on different days and no team results will be recorded.


Allison Falkin and Melissa Kopinski lead the Illini coming into the weekend. Falkin, who compiled a 6-2 record at No. 1 singles last spring, is ranked No. 89 nationally in singles this fall. Kopinski earned All-American honors last spring after advancing to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Doubles Championships along with partner Rachael White. Kopinski and White were the second and third All-Americans in Illini history. This fall, Kopinski earned a national ranking in singles, checking in at No. 102. Kopinski and Falkin are ranked No. 35 as a doubles pair, although they will not compete together in doubles at the Midwest Blast.

Freshman Alexis Casati has made an immediate impact for the Illini. The Deerfield, Ill., native won her first six collegiate matches, including winning the No. 1 singles bracket at the West Point Invitational. Casati won each of her matches in the West Point Invitational in straight sets. Two more freshmen, Jerricka Boone and Louise Kwong, qualified for the USTA/ITA Midwest Regional Championships, with Kwong going 2-1 in the qualifying singles draw and Boone advancing to the Round of 32 in the main draw.

The Illini check in at No. 45 in the national rankings. Last year, Illinois went 14-11 and 6-4 in the Big Ten, and its returns three of last year's top four singles players and four of the six in the lineup.

Purdue comes in as the only opponent ranked higher than Illinois in the fall polls, coming in at No. 27. Purdue topped Illinois twice last year, including once in the Big Ten Tournament. Mara Schmidt is ranked No. 125 for the Boilermakers. Schmidt teams with Krisztina Kapitany to form the No. 12 ranked doubles tandem nationally. Missouri is ranked No. 66 as a team but also holds the highest-ranked player this weekend; Cierra Gaytan-Leach is ranked No. 72 nationally in singles. Wake Forest is hoping to rebound from a 3-19 year in 2012-13 and will return to Urbana again on Feb. 15 for a dual match.

The Illini have been off for nearly three weeks since wrapping up action at the ITA Midwest Regionals in Ann Arbor, Mich. Three Illini advance to the Round of 16 in singles--Casati, Falkin and Kopinski. Kopinski went on to advance to the quarterfinals in singles but dropped a tough three-setter. In doubles, the pairs of Kopinski/Falkin and Misia Kedzierski/Kwong both advanced to the quarterfinals before falling.

Illinois closes its fall season at the Harvard Invitational from Nov. 8-10 in Boston, Mass. The Illini will face Boston University, Brown and Harvard in a round robin style tournament.

Schedule of Play

Friday, Nov. 1
Day One Results
9 a.m. - Purdue vs. Wake Forest / Illinois vs. Missouri (doubles)
10 a.m. - Purdue vs. Missouri (singles)
3:30 p.m. - Illinois vs. Purdue / Missouri vs. Wake Forest (doubles)
6 p.m. - Illinois vs. Wake Forest (singles)

Saturday, Nov. 2
Day Two Results
9 a.m. - Illinois vs. Wake Forest / Purdue vs. Missouri (doubles)
10 a.m. - Purdue vs. Wake Forest (singles)
1 p.m. - Illinois vs. Missouri (singles)

Sunday, Nov. 3
8 a.m. - Missouri vs. Wake Forest (singles)
11 a.m. - Illinois vs. Purdue (singles)