Alexis Casati was one of three Illini freshmen to make an immediate impact in the fall season. Casati led the team in singles wins with eight.
Dec. 11, 2013
The Fighting Illini women's tennis team used a mix of experiences upperclassmen and a talented trio of newcomers to roll through a successful fall and position itself for a breakout spring season.
"Fall is about growth, both individually and collectively as a team," head coach Michelle Dasso said. "I am proud of the character and work ethic that was displayed this semester, and I am looking forward to dual match season with this squad."
The fall started off with senior Allison Falkin, a two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection, and junior Melissa Kopinski, an All-American in 2013, earning 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.
At the same time, head coach Michelle Dasso was testing out her crew of three incoming freshmen in New York at the West Point Invitational. True freshman Alexis Casati started her Illini career off with a bang. She won all four of her matches in New York and won the No. 1 singles bracket. Casati ended up winning the first six singles matches of her collegiate career and leading the team in singles wins in the fall with an 8-2 record.
Casati, Falkin and Kopinski all advanced to the Round of 16 of the ITA Midwest Indoor Regionals. Kopinski and Falkin again paired up in doubles and advanced to the quarterfinals, as did senior Misia Kedzierski and freshman Louise Kwong. Kopinski went on to advance to the quarterfinals in the singles tournament.
Kwong, another freshman, led the Illini in doubles win in the fall with a 7-3 record. She went a perfect 3-0 with both Kedzierski and again with Julia Jamieson at the Midwest Blast, hosted by Illinois at the Atkins Tennis Center. The Illini collected the most singles and most doubles wins at the Blast, going 12-7 in singles and 7-2 in doubles action.
Kopinski found success in doubles with Casati, as the pair cruised to a 3-0 record at the Blast. A third freshman, Jerricka Boone, teamed with Falkin at No. 1 doubles for the three-day tournament. Boone ended the fall with three singles and three doubles wins.
Emily Barretta played perhaps the most exciting match of any Illini in the fall. Facing five consecutive match points, Barretta battled back to win both the set and the super-tiebreak to win the match. Barretta ended the fall with five singles wins. Audrey O'Connor battled injuries throughout the fall and finished with a 1-1 record in both singles and a 1-2 record in doubles.
The spring season starts with a trip to Hawaii for the Hawaii Tournament, hosted by the University of Georgia. Big Ten play begins on March 8, with Northwestern coming to town, and the Wildcats will host the Big Ten Championships in Evanston, Ill., from April 24-27.