Illinois women’s tennis endures winless weekend against strong opposition

Sidney Malone

Freshman Megan Heuser celebrates a won point during her doubles match alongside Sophomore Kate Duong against Missouri on Feb. 13. The Illini lost to both of their matches against Kansas and Oklahoma on Friday and Saturday.

The road struggles continued for Illinois women’s tennis as it dropped both matches in a difficult weekend. Illinois was the underdog in both matchups as it took on strong opponents in Kansas and No. 3 oklahoma. Though the Illini had snapped their three-match winning streak, they’ll get this week off before returning home to kick off Big Ten play.

Friday saw the Illini begin their two-match road stretch with a trip to Lawrence, Kansas, to take on the Jayhawks. It was Kansas that got off to an early start, taking courts one and two to claim the doubles point. The Illini court one team of sophomore Kate Duong and freshman Megan Heuser and the Illini court two duo of juniors Josie Frazier and Ashley Yeah both were defeated by 6-2 scorelines. The team of junior Emily Casati and freshman Kasia Treiber had their match go unfinished. Kansas 1, Illinois 0.

Things didn’t get much better for the Illini in singles play. Kansas quickly put another point on the board after No. 121 Malkia Nguonoue defeated Yeah, 6-1, 6-1, on court two. The Jayhawks earned their third point of the match on court five, where freshman Kasia Treiber was taken down by Mariana Manyoma-Velasquez, 0-6, 6-3, 3-6 in a hard-fought contest.

The match was put to bed after Jayhawk Carmen Roxana Manu was victorious over Heuser on court four. Despite battling out to a third set, Heuser couldn’t take it and fell, 6-3, 3-6, 5-7, to Roxana Manu. With the fourth and final point put on the board, the match was called in, ending in a Jayhawk victory. Duong, Frazier and freshman Kida Ferrari had their matches go unfinished on courts one, three and six, respectively.

At the time of stoppage, Duong was putting up a strong performance against No. 62 Maria Titova. The two were in a heated third set, 6-2, 6-7, 2-2, when their match was stopped. Frazier had her match against Sonia Smagina end while in the midst of a 3-6, 6-4, 1-2 score. Lastly, Ferrari had her match called just before entering a third set, the score reading 6-4, 5-7. Kansas 4, Illinois 0.

Following Friday’s defeat, Illinois took Saturday to rest as it traveled to Norman, Oklahoma, to take on its third ranked opponent of the season on Sunday. the no. 3 Sooners were the highest ranked team the Illini have come across all season, with No. 11 Baylor and No. 18 Florida State filling out the rest of the list.

In doubles play, the Illini came out with the same starting doubles team lineups as Friday. Oklahoma took courts one and three. While the Sooners No. 4 duo of Ivana Corley/Carmen Corley defeated Duong/Heuser, 6-4, the young Illini team did well overall in managing to take four games against one of the best duo teams in the country.

A 6-3 Oklahoma victory against Illinois’ Casati/Treiber was enough to claim the doubles point. Frazier/Yeah had their match go unfinished against No. 25 Alexandra Pisareva/Layne Sleeth, the score reading 5-2 in favor of the Sooners at the time of stoppage. Oklahoma 3, Illinois 0.

Singles play saw consecutive wins on courts four, five and six seal the deal for No. 3 oklahoma. Heuser fell to Anchisa Chanta, 2-6, 2-6. Treiber fell to Alexandra Pisareva, 1-6, 2-6, and Ferrari fell to Emma Staker, 1-6, 1-6.

The Illini on the top three courts were all battling ranked opponents and had their matches go unfinished. Duong took on No. 14 Layne Sleeth and was down, 2-6, 1-4, Yeah was battling back against No. 38 Ivana Corley 5-7, 0-2, and Frazier was also in the midst of turning things around against No. 34 Carmen Corley 2-6, 3-2. no. 3 Oklahoma 4, Illinois 0.

This was the first weekend to see the Illini go scoreless, getting shutout by a combined 8-0 against two top teams. While Illinois has struggled on the road this season, the opponents it has faced away have tended to be of a much higher caliber. The Illini have yet to face a ranked opponent at home, where they are yet to be beaten. A strong Minnesota side will test this, as it travels to Urbana next week to kick off conference play for Illinois.

The matches against Kansas and No. 3 Oklahoma mark the last of the non-conference opponents as the Illini begin to look ahead to the start of the Big Ten on March 18. Illinois (7-5) will be looking to right the ship against Minnesota (11-3) at Atkins Tennis Center next week.


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