URBANA, May 4, 2019 (Press Release)
The 15th-seeded Illinois men’s tennis team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championships on Friday, sweeping the Western Michigan Broncos, 4-0, at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex. During the NCAA Tournament, Illinois is 32-4 when playing at home and 21-3 in the first round. They have not lost in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament since 1998.
“Western Michigan is an impressive program,” said head coach Brad Dancer. “I thoroughly enjoyed the match and they are tough guys that pushed us across the board. I give a ton of credit to Dave (Morin)… he has been doing it well for a long time.”
No. 15 Illinois picked up the doubles point on Friday afternoon with wins in the No. 2 and 3 positions. Junior Vuk Budic and redshirt sophomore Gui Gomes took control of doubles play early in the No. 2 position, sweeping Western Michigan’s Peter Kuszynski and Jack Randall, 6-0. After the Broncos grabbed a win on court one, sophomore Fletcher Scott and freshman Keenan Mayo clinched the doubles point with a 6-4 victory over Western Michigan’s Nick Schnobel and Lenhard Haupt, 6-4.
The Orange and Blue continued the momentum with junior Noe Khlif picking up the first singles win, defeating Western Michigan’s Peter Kuszynski. The French native is now 9-3 in dual match singles play this season. Top-10 ranked Aleks Kovacevic defeated Jannik Opitz in straight sets, 6-2, 7-5. The junior is 18-3 in dual match singles play this season, including 16-3 in the No. 1 singles position. Sophomore Alex Brown completed the sweep, defeating Kennosuke Nouchi, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3. The clincher was the fourth for Brown this season. The Urbandale, Iowa native is also 14-9 in dual match play, including 14-7 in the No. 2 position.
The second round is slated to begin on Saturday at 3 p.m. CT with the No. 15 Fighting Illini facing No. 24 California. The winner of tomorrow’s round will advance to the Super Regional held at a site to be determined on May 10 or 11. The Golden Bears defeated Drake, 4-1, in Friday’s opener to improve their overall record to 15-12.
“We have seen the Golden Bears and know how good they are,” noted Dancer. “What a great challenge tomorrow and an incredible opportunity to play them in front of our crowd. I am hoping we can get the whole town out tomorrow for such a big day!”
#15 Illinois 4, Western Michigan 0
Singles competition: Order of Finish (5,1,2)
1. #10 Aleks Kovacevic (UI) def. Jannik Opitz (WMU) 6-2, 7-5
2. #46 Alex Brown (UI) def. Kennosuke Nouchi (WMU) 7-6 (7-3), 6-3
3. Zeke Clark (UI) vs. Lenhard Haupt (WMU) 6-2, 5-3, unfinished
4. Siphosothando Montsi (UI) vs. Matej Svjetlicic (WMU) 6-7 (3-7), 3-2, unfinished
5. Noe Khlif (UI) def. Peter Kuszynski (WMU) 6-2, 6-1
6. Vuk Budic (UI) vs. Nick Schnobel (WMU) 4-6, 6-2, 1-0, unfinished
Doubles competition: Order of finish (2,1,3)
1. Jannik Opitz/Kennosuke Nouchi (WMU) def. #47 Aleks Kovacevic/Alex Brown (UI) 6-3
2. Vuk Budic/Gui Gomes (UI) def. Peter Kuszynski/Jack Randall (WMU) 6-0
3. Keenan Mayo/Fletcher Scott (UI) def. Nick Schnobel/Lenhard Haupt (WMU) 6-4
Western Michigan 18-9
Illinois 19-8; National ranking #15
NCAA First Round – Match 2