No. 13 Illinois Awaits First Big Ten Road Match Against Purdue

Fighting Illini Tennis

WEST LAFAYETTE, March 23, 2019 (Press Release)

The No. 13 Fighting Illini men’s tennis team continues Big Ten play close to home in West Lafayette, Ind. against the Purdue Boilermakers on Sunday morning at 11 a.m. CT.

The 2015 season was the last time Illinois defeated Purdue on the road. The Illini handled the Boilermakers in a 6-1 victory. Illinois leads the overall series, 100-11-1.

Scouting the Opposition | Purdue (6-7)

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… Gaidzik came to Purdue on Aug. 23, 2009 after spending a season as the head coach at Northern Illinois, where the team’s second place in the conference was the highest for the program since 1997… Under Gaidzik’s tenure, Purdue has won 87 dual matches in seven seasons, averaging a dozen wins per season… 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… Purdue has also succeeded in the classroom, earning ITA All-Academic Team honors six-times (2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016) and the 2017 NCAA Public Recognition Award… Last season, the Boilermakers picked up Big Ten wins against Nebraska and ranked Wisconsin… The Purdue Boilermakers welcome freshman duo Santiago Galan and Andre Suzanne to the squad this season.

Serving up B1G Against the Boilermakers

Dating back to May 13, 1905, Purdue was the Illini’s first dual match opponent (on record). Illinois swept the Boilermakers, 6-0.

Last season, Illinois earned the program’s 100th victory with a 5-2 win against the Boilermakers inside Atkins Tennis Center. The new duo of Zeke Clark and Noe Khlif were first off, the court with a 6-1 victory at the No. 3 position. Moving up to the No. 2 position, Alex Brown and Caleb Chakravarthi clinched the doubles point, 6-2 against Maksymilian Raupuk and Mateo Julio.

Vuk Budic also earned his first dual match singles win of the season at the No. 6 position, 6-0, 6-3, against Ali Mooraj.

The Illini are now 100-11-1 all-time versus Purdue. Under head coach Brad Dancer, the Orange and Blue have won 14 out of 15 matches against the Boilermakers.

Conference Opponents Bring B1G Play

Last season, the Orange and Blue had an impressive 10-1 Big Ten record, only falling to 2018 NCAA runner-up finishers, the Ohio State Buckeyes. This season, the Illini has started off conference play undefeated with a 2-0 record.

Without any seniors, juniors Aleks Kovacevic, Zeke Clark, Vuk Budic, Gui Gomes, and Noe Khlif have provided leadership for the Fighting Illini men’s tennis program this season. Kovacevic has impressed with an undefeated 17-0 Big Ten singles careerrecord, including a 10-0 singles record for the 2019 Spring season. The New York Native has also boasted a 9-7 Big Ten doubles career record. In Singles Big Ten play, Clark has gone undefeated during his sophomore and junior year with an 9-0 record. Overall, Clark has recorded a 13-5 record in conference singles play. Frenchman Khlif has come on strong this year, with an undefeated 2-0 singles record. Khlif’s overall career conference record is 8-4 in Big Ten play. Budic has recorded a 6-1 Big Ten singles record, including a 4-0 record during his sophomore year. Due to an impressive 5-1 Big Ten record during his freshman year, Budic holds a 9-2 Big Ten doubles career record. Gomes also holds a winning doubles conference record of 6-4, including an undefeated 2-0 this season.

Sophomore sensations Alex Brown and Caleb Chakravarthi have also impressed during conference play. The Sophomore tandem have gone 7-4 in their career doubles conference play, while winning their first Big Ten match of the 2019 Spring season against No. 32 Simen Bratholm and Nick Brookes of Northwestern. Both Brown and Chakravarthi went 8-1 in singles conference play last season, while remaining undefeated this season. With only two conference matches under his belt, freshman Keenan Mayo won his first Big Ten match with partner Aleks Kovacevic in doubles play against Indiana’s Zac Brodney and Bennett Crane, 6-3.

In the Rankings

As a team, the Illini move up to No. 13. Individually, two Illini are ranked in singles play. Junior Aleks Kovacevic sits in the top-15 with a No. 14 rank due to an undefeated 10-0 record in singles dual match play. Sophomore Alex Brown remains in the top 35 at No. 31. Sophomore duo Brown and Caleb Chakravarthi break into the doubles rankings at No. 45 due to handing Northwestern’s then No. 32 Simen Bratholm and Nick Brookes their fourth loss of the season with a 6-4 victory.

Next Serve

The No. 13 Fighting Illini men’s tennis team heads to the Mitten for Big Ten Play against the Michigan State Spartans and No. 16 Michigan Wolverines.

Illinois will head up to East Lansing, facing the Spartans on Saturday, April 6 at 11 a.m. CT. Dating back to 1998, the Illini have a 24-match winning streak against Michigan State, while also leading the overall series, 59-28.

Head coach Brad Dancer is a former spartan player that reached the NCAA Doubles Championships his senior year and earned All-Big Ten honors. Dancer also begin his coaching career donning the Green and White as an assistant men’s tennis coach from 1993-98.

The following day, the Illini will head to Ann Arbor to face the third ranked team in the Big Ten, Michigan. The 2017 season was the last time Illinois earned a road win over the Wolverines. In a gritty fashion, the Orange and Blue bounced back from doubles play to win the match, 4-2.