"Jacksonville State came in here and pushed us to the edge today," said SIUE Head Coach Jason Coomer. "We have a lot of respect for their program after losing at their place last year. It was nice for our women to step up to the challenge today and show the improvement we have made as a program."
SIUE improved to 1-2 in OVC play and 6-7 overall. Jacksonville State dropped to 6-9 overall and 2-3 in the OVC.
Ilcewicz had to come from behind to defeat Danielle Kerindi at No. 5 singles 1-6, 6-3, 6-4. Once the fans at the SIUE Tennis Courts knew the overall outcome came down to one final match, everyone flocked to watch the ending.
"I sometimes have to pump myself up if there aren't many people around," said Ilcewicz. "Having fans behind you, especially with home court advantage, that's helps me. I get more motivated."
Coomer said the fans gave SIUE an extra boost.
"It was great having the fans out today," said Coomer. "The fans certainly play a role in helping build the home court advantage. We were recipients of that today."
Ilcewicz said she had to change tactics after falling behind a set.
"I had to play differently than I would have liked to play in the second set," she added.
"There's no question," noted Coomer, "she was going to do everything she could to help this team get the win."
Lexi Aranda was down four games in her No. 2 singles match and then won 12 unanswered games to earn a 6-4, 6-0 win over Olivia Nguyen. Aranda said she decided she needed to start dictating points after falling behind early.
"I fought back and started playing my game," Aranda said.
"Lexi did exactly what we know she is capable of," said Coomer. "She found herself against the wall early in the first set. She showed the fighter she is. She definitely played at very high level today. We are very proud of how she battled the whole day."
Mia Frogner ran her season record to 18-3 with a 6-1, 6-3 win at No. 3 singles. She defeated Claudia Marsala.
With both SIUE and Jacksonville State winning three singles matches apiece, the doubles point proved to be the deciding factor. SIUE took two of three doubles matched early.
"We always talk about the importance of the doubles point," said Coomer. "There's no question we want the tone from doubles to carry into singles play."
Ilcewicz and Aranda bested Kerindi and Zoe Bizinos at No. 2 doubles 8-6. Kali Donner and Frogner defeated Marsala and Aleksandra Cmilijic 8-3.
Aranda said that picking up today's win will help the Cougars in the future.
"It gave us all a confidence boost so when go into the rest of our conference matches we know we have the ability to win tight matches," she said.