Women’s tennis falls in NCAA first round

Jana Knoppe led the Flames with 24 wins this season. Photo: Steve Woltmann

By Laura White

The women’s tennis team ended its season Friday after falling to No. 11 Northwestern, 4-0, in the opening round of the NCAA Championship in Evanston.

The Flames finish the season with an overall 16-6 record.

“Northwestern is a talented team — they are very disciplined,” head coach Shannon Tully said. “It was a good fight. We did the best that we could and we were just happy to have the opportunity to compete in the NCAAs. We will train this summer and look forward to getting back into practice again next season.”

Starting the match in doubles, Northwestern came out quick and took two wins. Haley Craig and Mariana Palacios battled No. 14 Linda Abu Mushrefova and Nida Hamilton at No. 1, but fell 8-2. Natalia Kuvakina and Ann-Sophie Hahn lost, 8-1, at No. 3 to Belinda Niu and Kate Turvy.

Jana Knoppe and Kathryn Sharples competed in doubles at No. 2, but had their match go unfinished after the point was decided.

The Wildcats scored three points in singles. Palacios challenged No. 57 Turvy at No. 2, but was blanked in a 6-0, 6-0 decision. Kuvakina could not fend off Niu at No. 3, where she suffered a 6-4, 6-1 loss. The match was decided at No. 6 after Keti Mebuke was taken out by Hamilton, 6-2, 6-1.

Craig was down 6-2, 4-2 against Corning at No. 1 before the match went unfinished. Knoppe was in a close second set at No. 4 with Abu Mushrefova, 6-1, 5-4, which also went unfinished. Sharples battled back against Barnett at No. 5 after falling 6-4 in her first set to come back in the second and hold a 3-2 lead before the match was left unfinished.

UIC captured its 17th consecutive Horizon League Championship and made its 15th straight NCAA appearance.

Knoppe led UIC with 24 wins. Craig, the team’s only senior, will graduate with a career singles record of 35-27, 12-5 against Horizon League opponents and a doubles record of 42-27, 15-3 Horizon League.

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