Illinois women’s tennis looks to capitalize on hot start while hosting UTR College Circuit

Sidney Malone

Senior Ashley Yeah serves the ball during her singles match against Rutgers on March 27. Yeah won all six of her matches during the Wahoowa Invite in Virginia last weekend.

In its second competition of the year, Illinois women’s tennis makes its home debut as the hosts of a UTR College Circuit this weekend at Atkins Tennis Center.

Last weekend, Illinois had a very impressive showing at the Wahoowa Invite, sporting a dominant 10-2 singles record and winning five of six doubles matches. Senior Ashley Yeah had perhaps the best weekend of the group, winning all six of the matches she competed in, including a singles win against a ranked opponent to top things off.

This weekend’s tournament is structured much differently than the Wahoowa Invite, where the Illini participated in both singles and doubles matches against opponents directly affiliated with other universities. UTR tournaments are much more individual, with competitors representing themselves, rather than a university, in a separate bracket for singles and doubles.

This particular UTR tournament will feature athletes from Butler, Illinois State, Iowa and Northern Illinois, along with various high school academies.

Yeah believes this tournament is just as valuable as any, with the individuality of this tournament alleviating a lot of the usual pressure collegiate athletes face.

“It’s a bit different because our coaches can’t coach us,” Yeah said. “I think it will be good to get more matches under our belt and work on things. There’s not as much pressure with this tournament because it’s not affiliated with the NCAA.”

All eight of the Illini will be competing in this weekend’s event, marking seasonal debuts for senior Emily Casati, sophomores Kida Ferrari and Kasia Treiber and freshman Violeta Martinez, who did not compete last weekend at the Wahoowa Invite.

It will also be home debuts for the entire group, who either haven’t played at home since last April or will be competing at home for the first time in their collegiate career.

“I think it’s always nice to play at home,” Clark said. “I think there’s a certain level of being comfortable and confident. It’s just a great opportunity for them to get more matches without it really counting against us.”

Each member of Illinois has been spaced out in the singles tournament draw in such a way that prevents any Illinois versus Illinois matches until the quarterfinals, meaning that the final eight competitors could be from Illinois. While the odds of the entire roster making it to the quarterfinals may be low, the chance of at least one competitive match against teammates is exciting to say the least.



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