URBANA, April 25, 2019 (Press Release)
The No. 15 Fighting Illini men’s tennis team begins Big Ten Tournament play on Friday in Ann Arbor, Mich. Hosted by the University of Michigan, the No. 2-seeded Illini will take on the winner of Northwestern and Purdue at 1 p.m. CT on Friday afternoon. The Illini finished the regular season with a 16-7 overall record and 10-1 mark in Big Ten play.
Illinois has earned 18 Big Ten titles in program history, including when the Illini hosted the event in 1998, 2005, and 2015. Last season, Illinois finished as the runner-up after falling to Ohio State, 4-0.
Scouting Match One Opponents – Big Ten Tournament
- No. 7 seed Northwestern (14-13, 5-6 B1G): In his 11th season as Northwestern’s head coach, Arvid Swan has taken the Wildcats to new heights with a 187-126 record, including a 90-37 mark the last four years… Swan has guided Northwestern to six consecutive NCAA tournament appearances and seven overall… Swan has garnered honors for his coaching efforts including 2014 and 2016 ITA Midwest Region Coach of the Year… This season the Illini picked up Big Ten wins against Iowa and No. 37 Minnesota.
- No. 10 seed Purdue (9-13, 3-8 B1G): In his 10th season as the Purdue Boilermakers head coach, Pawel Gajdzik has taken the program into the national spotlight while his student-athletes continue to excel in the classroom and on the court… The Boilermakers earned an NCAA Championships berth in 2014 for the first time since 2002… Ranked four times in the final ITA rankings under Gaidzik, the Boilermakers obtained their highest ranking in program history No. 28 on April 15, 2014… Gaidzik has also garnered many accolades throughout his coaching career, including two-time ITA Ohio Valley Region Coach of the Year (2016, 2017) and 2017 ITA Wilson National Coach of the Year Finalist… This season the Boilermakers upset ranked Iowa Hawkeyes after singles play pushed them to a 4-3 victory.
Last Time Out – Regular Season Finale
The No. 15 Fighting Illini men’s tennis team concluded the regular season with their 10th conference win, defeating the Wisconsin Badgers, 4-3, last Sunday afternoon. Illinois capped off the regular season with a 16-7 overall record and 10-1 mark in Big Ten play. The Illini continues to lead the overall series against the Badgers, 60-29.
Illinois grabbed the doubles point with wins in the No. 1 and 2 positions. In the No. 2 position, junior Vuk Budic and redshirt sophomore Gui Gomes clinched their fourth doubles point of the season with a win over Jesper Freimuth and Lenard Soha, 6-3. Junior Zeke Clark clinched the victory for the Illini with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Chase Colton.
B1G History Lesson – Illinois At Big Ten Tournament
While No. 15 Illinois and No. 1 Ohio State have dominated the conference as of late, Michigan leads the Big Ten with the most team championships with 36. The Illini sit in third with 18 team championships, while the Buckeyes are close behind in fourth with 17. The Illini has hosted the Big Ten Tournament seven-times in program history (1954, 1964, 1985, 1990, 1998, 2005, 2015), including three (1998, 2005, 2015) where the Illini won in front of the home crowd.
Starting in 1999, the regular season winner is declared the “Big Ten Champion” and the tournament is used to determine the “Big Ten Tournament Champion” and NCAA automatic qualifier. The Orange and Blue have clinched the regular season eight times with seven of those winning the Big Ten Tournament title.
Last season, Illinois reached the Championship game in Iowa City, Iowa with wins over Penn State and ranked Michigan. At the Iowa hosted event, the Illini swept the Nittany Lions in the quarterfinals, while easily defeating the Wolverines, 4-1, in the semifinals. The Orange and Blue finished as the runner-up after falling to Ohio State, 4-0.
In the Rankings
As a team, the Illini remain at No. 15 nationally going into the Big Ten Tournament this weekend. Individually, two Illini are ranked in singles play. Junior Aleks Kovacevic remains in the top-10 at No. 9, while sophomore Alex Brown sits in 51st. With a perfect 6-0 doubles record in conference play, Illini duo Brown and Kovacevic remain in the doubles rankings at No. 52.
Next Rotation: Illinois Awaits NCAA Tournament Fate
Up next, the Illini will now wait for Monday evening when the NCAA announces the selections to the 2019 NCAA Tournament field. The NCAA Men’s Tennis selection show is slated for Monday at 5 p.m. CT and will stream on NCAA.com.
The NCAA Championship will have a new regional format this season. NCAA regional action will begin May 3 on various campuses. The new NCAA Super Regional format will take place May 10-12, where the round of 16 will be hosted by the top-eight remaining seeds. The final eight teams will advance to Orlando, Fla. for the 2019 NCAA Team Championship on May 16-19 at the USTA National Campus. The city will also serve as the host site for the NCAA Individual Championships, running from May 20-25.