BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The Illinois women’s tennis team rolled past Michigan State 4-1 on Thursday in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament.
Next up for the fifth-seeded Illini on Friday: a fourth-seeded Purdue team that handed Michelle Dasso’s squad a 5-2 defeat last Sunday in their regular season finale.
“We are looking forward to another crack at Purdue,” Dasso said. “We believe in each other and believe we have the ability to take one from Purdue. ... We want this one badly.”
After winning the doubles point for the sixth straight match, Illinois (14-10) captured three of the first four singles matches to be completed to finish off the Spartans (11-16). Each Illini singles win was in straight sets.
Rachael White and Breanne Smutko each won singles and doubles matches for Illinois.
Allison Falkin earned first- team All-Big Ten accolades Thursday night, and Melissa Kopinski received second- team honors.
In women’s gymnastics:
Weinstein makes cut. Illini senior Alina Weinstein was named one of four finalists for the Honda Award.
Others in the running to be selected the nation’s top female collegiate gymnast include UCLA’s Vanessa Zamarripa, LSU’s Rheagan Courville and NCAA all-around champion Bridget Sloan of Florida.
Two Illini female athletes previously won a Honda Award — Angela Bizzarri (cross-country) in 2010 and Mary Eggers (volleyball) in 1989.
In men’s tennis:
Hiltzik, Kopinski honored. Freshman Jared Hiltzik added to his Big Ten honors Thursday. He was named the conference’s Tennis Athlete of the Week before it was announced he received the league’s Freshman of the Year accolade in addition to a first-team All-Big Ten honor. Teammate Tim Kopinski garnered second-team All-Big Ten recognition, marking the 17th straight year Illinois has had at least two all-conference recipients.
“They both embody hard work and focus, and these awards are representative of their commitment,” Illinois coach Brad Dancer said. “Jared joins a prestigious group ... (and) while Kopinski’s stats were not overwhelming, I believe the coaches recognize the spirit with which he competes.”
Hiltzik — who earned his third weekly honor from the Big Ten on Thursday — becomes the sixth Illinois tennis player to win Freshman of the Year, and first since Dennis Nevolo in 2009.
In women’s track and field:
Yaeger excels at Drake Relays. Courtney Yaeger placed fourth in the 5,000-meter run in 16 minutes, 26.24 seconds to place fourth while teammate Alyssa Schneider was was fifth (16:27.43) at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa.