Illinois women’s tennis gets set to host Big Ten rival Northwestern’s final home match

Sidney Malone

Junior Josie Frazier strikes at the ball during her singles match against Rutgers on March 27. The Illini will have their last home match of the season against the in-state rivals Northwestern on Sunday.

By James Kim, Assistant Sports Editor

It’s a rivalry week as the Illini will be hosting a wide range of sports, including tennis. Illinois women’s tennis prepares defenders’ home court against in-state rivals at Atkins Tennis Center on Sunday at Northwestern. The Wildcats with a big showdown will be the top ten Big Ten standings clash as both teams win the conference title this season.

Illinois will be looking to bounce back after a split weekend. Despite winning 4-2 at home on Friday versus Purdue, the team suffered a tight 4-3 road loss to Penn State.

Sunday will provide you with a valuable opportunity not only to get back on track but also to jump ahead. Illinois currently sits in fourth place with a 6-2 conference record, and Northwestern currently sits second with a 7-1 record.

Historically, the Illini have struggled severely against the Wildcats, going 26-3 against their in-state rivals over the past two years. However, the two schools’ most recent meeting was in Illinois who triumphed, claiming a memorable 4-3 senior night upset. 7 Northwestern. The victory last season is a return to the latest Illini, who will be looking for a similar feat on Sunday.

“That’s probably our biggest win last year,” said junior Josie Frazier earlier in the season, “and I want to defend Illinois this year and beat them again.”

The Illinois versus Northwestern matchup is one of those highly anticipated no matter the sport. Both schools have each other for as long as they love, and they are on the line on bragging rights. However, for Illinois women’s tennis, the stakes are even higher than normal.

With only three matches remaining in the regular season, the Illini will have the Big Ten champions to order as close to perfect as possible. Ohio State is yet to lose to conference play, and the rest of the regular season’s close to unbeaten will be crowned by this season’s Big Ten winners. Still, Illinois will remain competitive with positive results against Northwestern, Michigan and Michigan State. However, taking one of these matches at a time, it is likely that the Wildcats will continue to win the hunt for the Illini in a flash.

Additionally, Sunday’s clash will be the final home match of the regular season for Illinois. They say the home is where the heart is, and that seems to be the case for the Illini, who are currently playing 10-1 in Urbana. This advantage will be important, as Northwestern will be the toughest opponents Illinois has played this season.

Despite their success playing Atkins, the Illini will need to come out sharp and ready against a Wildcat team who swept the Hoosiers 7-0 in their last outing. Regardless, at the end of the day Illinois will be saying goodbye to its fans in defeat, or with one last signature home victory. Big Ten Tennis is an exciting afternoon for everything set up.

Illinois (13-7 overall, 6-2 B1G) will face off against rivalry week at Northwestern (12-6 overall, 7-1 B1G) at noon on Sunday at the Atkins Tennis Center.

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