Tennis

Illinois women’s tennis heads to Kansas for two weekend games

Illinois women's tennis heads to Kansas for two weekend games

Sidney Malone

Junior Josie Frazier prepares an aerial swing during her doubles match with Junior Ashley Yeah against Missouri on February 13. The Illini will face Kansas on Friday and Oklahoma on Sunday.

For the first time in a month, Illinois women’s tennis will play outdoors, traveling to face Kansas on Friday and No. 3 Oklahoma on Sunday. The Illini are on a three-game winning streak and hope to build on that momentum this weekend.

Last time out, Illinois beat a winless Cornell in what turned out to be a much closer game than expected. The Big Red gave the Illini a hard time, but left the Atkins Tennis Center with their seventh loss of the season. Illinois, meanwhile, picked up its seventh win of the season with the triumph and will start the weekend with a trip to Lawrence, Kansas.

The Jayhawks are currently 5-4. Kansas currently holds the all-time advantage between the teams, winning seven of nine matchups. The Illini, who are on a two-game losing streak against the Jayhawks, will look to turn the tables on Friday with a win.

The last meeting between the two was in February 2020, when the Illini found themselves on the wrong end of a 4-2 scoreline. Friday’s game will be Illinois’ first road game since Jan. 30, when it suffered a loss to the Florida International in Tallahassee, Fla.

Sunday will pit Illinois against No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman. This will be the highest-ranked opponent the Illini have faced all season, and an away win here would be massive.

The Sooners are in great shape with a 13-1 record. Their only loss came to current No. 1 North Carolina, and even then Oklahoma beat players like the then No. 1. 1 Texas. Illinois will need its best performance of the season to trigger the upset. The Illini have fallen to the Sooners seven times and defeated them only once in school history, with that victory coming in 2013.

Illinois spent the entire month of February playing at home. During that three game streak, the Illini have been perfect but now have to readapt to traveling and playing on hostile grounds.

“It was nice to be home in February for sure,” head coach Evan Clark said. “We’ve been on the road a few times this year, so we’re not used to it. Admittedly, the matches are tougher on the road.

The majority of Illinois’ success this season has come at home. Undefeated at Atkins, the team struggled to play on unfamiliar ground. Six of the team’s seven wins have come at home and on the road, the Illini are 1-3. While it should be noted that Illinois has played most of its toughest opponents on the road, part of the overall puzzle for the Illini this season is figuring out how to stay consistent when playing elsewhere.

“(It) will be a huge measuring stick to see where we are,” Clark said. “We will face some of the best teams. Obviously we are the underdogs in both matches, so we have nothing to lose. I hope the girls relax a bit and go after the next two.

@james_kim15

[email protected]