April 25, 2013
CHICAGO – The UIC women’s tennis team (14-5, 6-1 HL) heads to Indianapolis, Ind., in hopes of coming away with its 17th-consecutive conference title at the Horizon League Championship, running Friday through Sunday. After receiving a first-round bye, the No. 1 Flames will face No. 4 Detroit or No. 5 Milwaukee at 11 a.m. (CT) Saturday at North Central High School, weather permitting.
"We are excited to get back to Indianapolis to defend our title," head coach Shannon Tully said. "There have been many unpredictable league results this season, so the tournament should be interesting. We've been working hard on doubles strategy over the past couple of weeks and we are prepared for either Detroit or Milwaukee in the first round. The team is determined to win a spot in the NCAAs."
UIC earned the top seed of the tournament after going 6-1 against Horizon League opponents. The lone loss came against Detroit on April 6, when the Titans collected a 4-3 win and snapped the Flames’ 146-match win streak against conference opponents.
Against Horizon League opponents this season, UIC produced a 33-9 (.786) record in singles. Jana Knoppe led all players with a perfect 7-0 record, while going 4-0 at No. 4 and 3-0 at No. 5. Mariana Palacios and Kathryn Sharples went 6-1, followed by Keti Mebuke at 5-1, Natalia Kuvakina at 4-3, Haley Craig at 3-3 and Ann-Sophie Hahn at 2-0.
While competing in doubles, the Flames were able to tally a 15-6 (.714) record against conference foes. Craig and Palacios were able to combine at No. 1 and register a 6-1 record, with their only loss coming in the tiebreaker against Cleveland State. Kuvakina and Hahn went 4-1, 12-2 overall, at No. 3 and enter into competition having won their last three matches. The third pairing of Knoppe and Sharples went 3-3 while at No. 2 and have gone 7-7 overall at the position.
In the semifinal round on Saturday, UIC will take on the winner of a first-round match between Detroit and Milwaukee. While the Flames fell to the Titans, 4-3, they were able to take down the Panthers, 6-1, this season.
Detroit earned a No. 4 seed in the postseason with its 5-2 record, as Milwaukee came in at No. 5 with a 4-3 record. In the teams’ regular-season contest, the Titans edged by the Panthers, 4-3.
The Horizon League championship match will be streamed live Sunday on the Horizon League Network at 11:30 a.m.