Illini insider

One to watch

For the second time in four years, Sujay Lama's Illini are hosting the Big Ten tournament. When the event last visited Atkins Tennis Center and Illini Grove Courts, Northwestern was in the midst of a streak of conference tournament titles that now stands at seven. The top-seeded Wildcats again are favored after rolling to a 10-0 record in the Big Ten regular season race.

At-bat song provides music to Illini ears

URBANA – Little Richard has made an appearance at every Illinois home softball game this spring.

So have Michael Jackson and Manfred Mann.

Harkins' net-rushing style helping her surprise foes

URBANA – Could it be that Macall Harkins has gone from being the hunter to being the hunted?

As recently as mid-February, that notion might have seemed preposterous. After all, by then the No. 1 singles player on the Illinois women's tennis team had lost 11 of her first 18 matches and was 0-5 against nationally ranked opponents.

Big Ten weekly award to Worsley

PARK RIDGE – Illinois sprinter Dominique Worsley, who won two events at the Michael Johnson Classic last weekend in Waco, Texas, was named Big Ten Co-Athlete of the Week in men's track and field on Tuesday.

Tennis, anyone?

News-Gazette staff writer JEFF HUTH offers three storylines to keep an eye on when the Big Ten women's tennis tournament is held Thursday through Sunday at Atkins Tennis Center and Illini Grove Courts:

TATE: Friday's NCAA ruling likely to be another blow to Chief's chances

CHAMPAIGN – Salvation comes in many forms, but Chief Illiniwek might be running out of options.

With pro-Chiefers meeting roadblocks in their quest for relief, it boils down to this: NCAA's executive committee is set to respond Friday to the UI's second appeal in behalf of the Illini symbol, and it is expected to (1) deny the appeal or (2) offer a short extension to mid-May, leaving in serious doubt the Sept. 2 halftime dance during the football opener against Eastern Illinois.

Who's that Illini?

I was the first women's tennis player to win back-to-back team MVP awards. I earned those honors in 1981-82 and '82-83. I finished my career in 1984 No. 1 on the career list for singles wins (89), and have since been passed by Jennifer McGaffigan and Lindsey Nimmo.

Who's that Illini?

I'm 15th on the women's basketball team's all-time scoring list with 1,192 points. I was as consistent as they come, averaging between 9.6 points and 10.9 in all four of my seasons. The three-point line was added for my senior year, 1987-88, and I made 26.

Former Illini gets WNBA shot

Former Illini Anne O'Neil is in training camp with the reigning WNBA champion Sacramento Monarchs.

O'Neil, who played one season at Illinois before transferring to Iowa State, was drafted in the third round last season by Sacramento. A stress fracture in her ankle during training camp ended her bid for a roster spot.

Tate: UI pitching concerns are mounting

CHAMPAIGN – There is a thirst for baseball in this community.

We see it at all levels, from Little League through the preps to Cub-Card-White Sox followings.