CHICAGO, February 15, 2019 (Press Release)
No. 14 Illinois men’s tennis is set to host the 2019 ITA Division I National Men’s Team Indoor Championship this weekend, Feb. 15-18, at Midtown Athletic Club in Chicago. The Illini will open the 16-team tournament with No. 6 Texas on Friday at 6:30 p.m. CT. Illinois is seeded at No. 12, while Texas is at No. 5 in the tournament. The Orange and Blue is 3-9 all-time against the Longhorns, winning their last meeting on March 14, 2015 in Austin, Texas.
In its 44th year of existence, this will be the fifth time the Orange and Blue has hosted this tournament with the last being in 2015. As the host site, Illinois received an automatic bid to the event and was exempt from competing in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. The Illini have won the team championship twice in program history (2003, 2004).
The top-20 teams will be competing in the tournament, including fellow Big Ten program, No. 1 seed Ohio State. The tournament commences on Friday at 9 a.m. CT with the full draw and schedule of play that can be seen here. All details regarding the tournament such as live streaming, live scoring, tickets, and directions can be found on the Illinois ITA Tournament website.
By the Numbers: 2019 ITA National Team Indoor Championships Facts
6: Teams that have won ITA Indoors and NCAA Championship in the same year – Stanford, UCLA, Illinois, USC, Virginia, Wake Forest
7: Conferences represented – ACC, AAC, Big Ten, Big 12, Ivy League, Pac-12, SEC. Teams that won their conference last season (2018) – Tulane, Wake Forest, Ohio State, Texas, Columbia, UCLA, Mississippi State
8: Teams that participated in the 2018 NCAA Tournament – Wake Forest, Ohio State, Virginia, Columbia, TCU, Illinois, Texas, Mississippi State
9: Teams that have won the ITA Indoors team championship (Stanford, UCLA, Virginia, USC, Illinois, Baylor, Ohio State, UNC, Wake Forest) and number of NCAA Champions (USC, UCLA, Stanford, Notre Dame, Tulane, Illinois, Baylor, Virginia, Wake Forest).
16: Ranked teams competing at this year’s ITA Indoors – No. 1 Wake Forest, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Mississippi State, No. 4 Florida, No. 5 USC, No. 6 Texas, No. 7 UCLA, No. 8 North Carolina, No. 9 Baylor, No. 10 Stanford, No. 11 Notre Dame, No. 12 Columbia, No. 13 Virginia, No. 14 Illinois, No. 15 TCU, No. 19 Tulane
Scouting the Opposition | No. 6 Texas (9-0)
Now in his 18th season as Texas’ head coach, Michael Center has a record of 365-137 (.727) at Texas, while guiding the Longhorns to appearances in the NCAA Championship in all of his 18 seasons in Austin, including three trips to the final four… At Texas, he has guided his teams to five NCAA quarterfinal appearances, along with four regular season conference championships and three conference tournament titles… Center has received numerous awards for his illustrious career, including five-time Big Coach of the Year (2002, 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018) and four-time ITA Region Coach of the Year…The Longhorns have had 16 student-athletes earn 28 ITA All-American honors since Center’s arrival… Under Center, the Longhorns achieved their highest final national ranking at No. 3 in 2006… Texas is coming off a 19-7 season in 2017-18, when they finished ranked No. 12 nationally and earned their first conference title since 2010… The veteran team is led by All-American Yuya Ito, along with All-Big 12 honorees Christian Sigsgaard and Harrison Scott. Senior Colin Markes also adds depth to the squad. Texas also welcomes three freshmen, Nevin Arimilli, Cleeve Harper, and Chih Chi Huang.
Last Time Out
The No. 14 Fighting Illini men’s tennis team started off their campaign in Chicago defeating No. 7 UCLA, 4-2 on Wednesday night. This marked the Orange and Blue’s first win this season over a top 10 opponent. Illinois moves to 4-1 overall heading into the ITA National Indoor Championships.
The UCLA Bruins jumped out to an early advantage with wins at No. 1 and 3 positions to secure the doubles point. With his first collegiate win, freshman Siphosothando Montsi helped Illinois earn its first team point with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Ben Goldberg. Junior Aleks Kovacevic and sophomore Alex Brown helped the Illini gain a 3-2 lead. In the No. 1 position, Kovacevic earned a big win over All Pac-12 honoree, Maxime Cressy, 7-6 (5), 7-5. Meanwhile, Brown defeated Keegan Smith in a three-setter, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. In the end, sophomore Caleb Chakravarthi, clinched the match for the Illini, defeating Mathew Tsolakyan, 5-7, 6-0, 6-4.
Illini Lineup Returns
Illinois returns eight players from the 2017-18 squad, including six letterwinners. Without any seniors on the team, the Illini juniors Vuk Budic, Zeke Clark, Gui Gomes, Noe Khlif, and Aleks Kovacevic will provide leadership and guidance for the team. With a year under their belt, sophomore duo Alex Brown and Caleb Chakravarthi will add depth to the Illini lineup.
Head Coach Brad Dancer adds four freshmen to the program – Lucas Horve (Forsyth, Ill.), Keenan Mayo (Long Beach, Calif.), Siphosothando Montsi (East London, South Africa), and early enrollee Alex Bancila (Lake Bluff, Ill.). Local five-star recruits, Horve and Bancila, along with Mayo and Montsi are expected to make an immediate impact for the Illini after successful ITF junior careers.
In the Rankings
For the fourth week this season, the Illini remain in the top 20 of the ITA team rankings. Moving, up one spot this week, the No. 14 Illinois are coming off of an exciting win against No. 11 Notre Dame. In the first individual rankings since the fall season, five Illini are ranked in singles play with three earning career-high rankings. Breaking into the top 30, sophomore Alex Brown sits at No. 23, while junior Aleks Kovacevic moved up 20 spots at No. 24, and junior Zeke Clark bests his career-high rank by 53 spots at No. 30. For the first time in his career, sophomore Caleb Chakravarthi breaks into the singles rankings at No. 116, while freshman Keenan Mayo sits at No. 125 to round out the field.