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Nebraska women's tennis vs. Illinois, 4/2/17

Nebraska's Claire Reifeis hits a return to Illinois' Alexis Casati in a singles match in April 2017 at the Dillon Tennis Center. Reifeis went 17-5 last season as a sophomore.

After just missing the NCAA Tournament field last season, the Nebraska women’s tennis team will begin its quest to reach the 2019 nationals with a pair of home matches Saturday to start the spring campaign.

Coach Scott Jacobson's Huskers, who bring back four players with starting experience from last year’s 18-7 team, take on Air Force at 10 a.m. at Dillon Tennis Center before facing Creighton at 2:30 p.m.

Two of NU’s top three players last season, senior Vasanti Shinde and junior Claire Reifeis, return. Reifeis went 17-5 as a sophomore, mostly at No. 2 and 3 singles, while Shinde was 12-5 playing at No. 1, 2 and 3. Shinde was 6-1 in Big Ten play a year ago. Reifeis took an individual title at the Minnesota Invitational in the fall.

Two more juniors, Jeannie Lozowski and Hayley Haakenstad, also figure to be major contributors this season. Lozowski sat out this past fall with a wrist injury, but went 7-3 in spring matches last season. Haakenstad, 5-4 in singles matches last year, combined with Reifeis for a 12-7 mark at No. 2 doubles.

Marina Cozac, who transferred to NU from DePaul after her sophomore season, joins Shinde and Elizabeth Gould as the Husker seniors this spring. Junior Emma Worley and freshman Jessica Aragon also look to have an impact in the Husker lineup. Aragon went 4-1 in singles last fall and played doubles with Shinde.

The Huskers are slated to host the women's Big Ten tournament April 25-28 at Dillon Tennis Center.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7437 or rpowell@journalstar.com. On Twitter @ronpowell_ljs.

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Sports reporter

Ron Powell is a longtime prep writer for the Journal Star. He covers high school football, boys basketball and track as well as state college football and Husker and professional tennis.

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