Jan. 24, 2014
CHICAGO – The UIC women’s tennis team will kick off its 2014 season with a stretch of six matches on the road beginning this weekend. The Flames will take on Marquette at 10 a.m. CT on Saturday at the Helfaer Tennis Stadium in Milwaukee, Wis., before heading to Urbana, Ill., to face Illinois at 11 a.m. on Sunday at the Atkins Tennis Center.
Selected as the favorite to win its 18th-consecutive conference title in a Horizon League preseason coaches’ poll, the Flames return seniors Jana Knoppe, Natalia Kuvakina, Mariana Palacios and Kathryn Sharples, junior Keti Mebuke and sophomore Ann-Sophie Hahn, while they welcome in freshman Veronica Lacerda.
UIC had an impressive fall season on the courts as it went 21-12 in singles and 10-4 in doubles while competing at the Spartan Invitational, Wildcat Invitational and ITA Second Chance Regional. Hahn led the Flames with a 6-1 singles record, while Knoppe and Sharples produced winning records of their own. Hahn additionally joined Lacerda in doubles and went 3-0 against the opposition.
Saturday’s match will serve as the first of the season for Marquette, as well, after competing in four tournaments during the fall season and January’s Indiana Invitational. The Golden Eagles hold the advantage in the all-time series at 2-21, with the Flames last win coming during the 2006 season with a 5-2 victory.
Following four fall tournaments and a trip to the Hawaii Tournament this month, Illinois will open up a slate of home matches this weekend, as it hosts Saint Louis and Chicago on Friday before a doubleheader with UIC and Illinois State on Sunday. The Flames will be looking for their first win over the Fighting Illini, as they are down 0-4 in the series, with their last regular-season meeting coming in 2009.