Sept. 27, 2012
CHICAGO – After capturing its 16th-consecutive conference championship and making its 14th-straight NCAA tournament appearance last season, the UIC women’s tennis team returns to the courts this weekend to begin its fall campaign at the DePaul Invitational. Hosted by the Blue Demons in Romeoville, Ill., competition gets underway at 1 p.m. (CT) on Friday and goes through Sunday.
The Flames welcome back senior Haley Craig and juniors Jana Knoppe and Kathryn Sharples. Craig finished the 2011-12 season with a team-best 24-7 singles record, having gone 23-12 in doubles after combining with Mariya Kovaleva and Teona Tsertsvadze. Knoppe ended her sophomore season with a 22-8 record, a perfect 11-0 at the No. 5 spot, and a 14-match win streak, as Sharples came away with 18 singles wins, with eight coming at the No. 6 position.
Having graduated four seniors (Linda Hricistova, Kovaleva, Elisa Simonetti and Tsertsvadze) last season, head coach Shannon Tully brings in a pair of transfers from Akron and Alcorn State to join the UIC squad.
Junior Natalia Kuvakina comes in after producing an 18-6 singles and 19-9 doubles season with the Zips and winning back-to-back MAC Championships, including the first MAC title in the history of the Akron women’s tennis team. During her freshman campaign with the Braves, sophomore Keti Mebuke was the only player to produce an 8-0 singles record after going to the SWAC Championship final, in addition to being named to the SWAC All-Conference First Team and receiving the honor of Freshman of the Year.
Along with the Flames and the Blue Demons, the three-day DePaul Invitational features contenders from Northern Illinois, Illinois State, Northern Iowa, Western Michigan, UW-Milwaukee, Chicago State, Valparaiso and Lewis. Of the 10 participating schools, DePaul’s Jasmin King is the lone player who holds an ITA Division I Preseason Ranking at No. 73.
Check back to UICFlames.com for complete results and a recap of the DePaul Invitational.