No. 14 Illinois Takes Over Series, Defeating Kentucky In A 4-1 Thriller

Fighting Illini Tennis

URBANA, February 9, 2019 (Press Release)

No. 14 Illinois men’s tennis team snap three-match losing streaking against Kentucky on Friday night inside Atkins Tennis Center. With a gritty and tough performance, the Illini defeat the Wildcats, 4-1, to take over the series, 17-16. Illinois remains undefeated with a 3-0 record this season.

“Really strong effort from our guys,” said head coach Brad Dancer. “You can see we are still early in the dual season and learning how to play in these environments.”

Junior pair Vuk Budic and Zeke Clark started the match with a 6-0 sweep over Fabian Penzkofer and Kevin Huempfner. For the third time this season, junior Aleks Kovacevic and freshman Keenan Mayo clinched the doubles point with a 7-5 victory over Kento Yamada and Ryo Matsumura.

With a 1-0 for the Orange and Blue, sophomore Caleb Chakravarthi won the first singles match for Illinois, defeating Theo McDonald, 6-1, 7-5. Mayo put up a fight against Kento Yamada, but ultimately fell 6-4, 6-4. This put the Wildcats on the board, 2-1. Junior Noe Khlif defeated Kevin Huempfner, 7-5, 6-4.

Junior Noe Khlif was the next to add to the Illini lead, winning, 7-5, 6-4, against Kevin Huempfner in straight sets. The victory was clinched by No. 30 Clark in a thrilling three-setter defeating Cesar Bourgois, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. After dropping the first set, Clark mounted a dominant comeback for the fourth and final point of the match.

“As always, our crowd was awesome. The Net Nuts make this place special. Excited for another great challenge tomorrow.” 

In a quick turnaround, Illinois returns to Atkins Tennis Center tomorrow night at 6 p.m. CT against ACC powerhouse, No. 8 North Carolina.

Illinois Notes

  • With their victory, the Orange and Blue take over the series against the Wildcats, 17-16.
  • Earn their first victory against Kentucky since 2015, ending a three-match losing streak against the wildcats.
  • The Illini take over the series with the Wildcats, 17-16.
  • With a 3-0 record, Illinois remains undefeated going into the matchup with the North Carolina Tar Heels.
  • Junior Aleks Kovacevic and freshman Keenan Mayo clinched the doubles point with a 7-5 victory over Kento Yamada and Ryo Matsumura.
  • Junior Zeke Clark clinched the match in a thriller against Cesar Bourgois, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. 


Singles competition

1. #24 Aleks Kovacevic (UI) vs. #57 Ryo Matsumura (UK) 4-6, 6-3, 2-1, unfinished

2. #23 Alex Brown (UI) vs. Enzo Wallart (UK) 6-4, 3-6, 3-4, unfinished
3. #30 Zeke Clark (UI) def. Cesar Bourgois (UK) 3-6, 6-3, 6-2
4. #96 Kento Yamada (UK) def. #125 Keenan Mayo (UI) 6-4, 6-4

5. #116 Caleb Chakravarthi (UI) def. Theo McDonald (UK) 6-1, 7-5

6. Noe Khlif (UI) def. Kevin Huempfner (UK) 7-5, 6-4

Doubles competition

1. Cesar Bourgois/Enzo Wallart (UK) def. Alex Brown/Caleb Chakravarthi (UI) 6-4

2. Keenan Mayo/Aleks Kovacevic (UI) def. Kento Yamada/Ryo Matsumura (UK) 7-5

3. Vuk Budic/Zeke Clark (UI) def. Fabian Penzkofer/Kevin Huempfner (UK) 6-0