Singles Play Pushes No. 14 Illinois Past Penn State

Illinois celebrates a thrilling win (photo: twitter)

URBANA, April 13, 2019 (Press Release)

The No. 14 Fighting Illini men’s tennis team defeated the Penn State Nittany Lions, 4-3 on Friday evening at the Atkins Tennis Center. Illinois improves to 14-6 overall this season, including a perfect 8-0 conference record. Leading the overall series, 33-5, the Illini recorded their fifth consecutive win over Penn State.

“This was a great college tennis match,” said head coach Brad Dancer. “We knew coming in that Penn State had a lot of talent and we have great respect for the players on their team. Needless to say, they pushed us. We dug ourselves some holes beginning doubles and singles and were in a position where our backs were against the wall.”

After dropping the doubles point, Illinois responded with four singles wins. Back in the lineup, freshman Siphosothando Montsi got the Orange and Blue on the board with a 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 win against Ben Lieb on court four. After winning the first set tiebreaker, 7-6 (9), sophomore Alex Brown came back in the third set to win 7-6 (9), 3-6, 6-4 against Christian Lakoseljac.

On court six, junior Vuk Budic battled back from a second set tiebreaker loss to win over Alp Sentay, 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3. Tied at 3-3, court three decided the fate of the match. Junior Zeke Clark clinched his third match of the season with a 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 6-1 victory against Gabriel Nemeth. Clark is 5-1 in Big Ten singles play.

“Really proud of our guys for the effort and focus they showed,” noted Dancer. “Credit to Zeke (Clark) for stepping up in big moments, taking big shots in the third set. Also proud of the grittiness we showed all the way through, winning some tough three set matches against great players.”

Illinois completes their home finale on Sunday afternoon at Noon CT inside Atkins Tennis Center to face NCAA runner-up, the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes. This also marks our last Breakfast at Atkins theme for the season. Fans will be able to enjoy some breakfast on the court.

Illinois Notes

  • Illinois improves to 8-0 in Big Ten play.
  • The Illini have a five-match win streak over the Nittany Lions and lead the overall series, 33-5.
  • Junior Zeke Clark clinched his third match of the season with a 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 6-1 victory against Gabriel Nemeth.
  • Junior Vuk Budic and sophomore Alex Brown both remain undefeated in Big Ten singles play.
  • Illini Duo Aleks Kovacevic and sophomore Alex Brown are 5-1 in doubles play after winning against No. 19 Constant De La Bassetiere and Gabriel Nemeth, 6-1.



#14 Illinois 4, Penn State 3 

Singles competition: Order of finish (4,5,1,2,6,3)

1. #37 Constant De La Basse (PSU) def. #6 Aleks Kovacevic (UI) 6-0, 3-6, 6-3
2. #48 Alex Brown (UI) def. #105 Christian Lakoseljac (PSU) 7-6 (11-9), 3-6, 6-4
3. Zeke Clark (UI) def. Gabriel Nemeth (PSU) 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (5-7), 6-1
4. Siphosothando Montsi (UI) def. Ben Lieb (PSU) 2-6, 6-1, 6-2
5. Christos Antonopoulo (PSU) def. Keenan Mayo (UI) 6-3, 2-6, 6-1
6. Vuk Budic (UI) def. Alp Sentay (PSU) 6-4, 6-7 (6-8), 6-3

Doubles competition: Order of finish (3,1,2)

1. Alex Brown/Aleks Kovacevic (UI) def. #19 Constant De La Basse/Gabriel Nemeth (PSU) 6-1

2. Matt Galush/Ben Lieb (PSU) def. Vuk Budic/Gui Gomes (UI) 7-6 (7-5)
3. Christos Antonopoulo/Christian Lakoseljac (PSU) def. Keenan Mayo/Noe Khlif (UI) 6-1

Penn State 15-7
Illinois 14-6; National ranking #14