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    Jan. 31, 2013

    CHICAGO – Coming off of a season having claimed its 16th-consecutive Horizon League championship and 14th-straight NCAA appearance, the UIC women’s tennis team gets set for its 2013 competitive season with matches on Friday and Sunday.  The Flames face Marquette in Milwaukee, Wis., at the Helfaer Tennis Stadium beginning at 4 p.m. (CT) on Friday, before hosting Chicago at Match Point Tennis in Griffith, Ind., at 10 a.m. (CT) on Sunday.

    “We have a huge match to start the season with on Friday,” head coach Shannon Tully said.  “It’s always a long battle, but Marquette has edged us out the last few times we have played.  The goal is obviously to turn that around.  Then we are off and running with Chicago, followed by two tough MAC opponents.  I’m ready to get out there and see what we can do.”

    In her 12th season with the Flames, Tully holds an overall record of 177-83, going 110-0 through conference play, as UIC holds an NCAA record with 143-consecutive conference wins.

    Haley Craig, Jana Knoppe and Kathryn Sharples are the only returning members of last season’s team.  Natalia Kuvakina and Keti Mebuke competed with the Flames in the fall, while Mariana Palacios and Ann-Sophie Hahn jumped right into action after joining the team at the Purdue Hidden Dual on Jan. 19-21.

    Through tournament competition this season, UIC went 35-39 in singles against tough opponents, while collecting eight doubles wins.  Sharples led all players with nine wins, as Knoppe and Mebuke came away with eight apiece.

    In previous contests, the Golden Eagles have come out on top of the Flames, including last season’s 4-3 final, as UIC’s last win came during the 2005-06 season.  Marquette is 1-2 this season, losing to Minnesota and No. 50 Indiana and taking a win against Montana.

    The Flames have been able to fend off the Maroons in their four matches over the past five seasons, taking a 5-2 win last year.  Sunday’s contest marks the first of the season since fall competition for Chicago, who received a No. 1 Division III Central preseason ranking.