ANN ARBOR, April 28, 2019 (Press Release)
The No. 15-ranked Illinois men’s tennis team advances to the Big Ten Tournament title match for the 11th time under head coach Brad Dancer. The Orange and Blue are eyeing an 11th tournament crown. Illinois advances to 18-7 overall and 10-1 in conference play.
“Penn State has great players,” said head coach Brad Dancer. “I know our guys were disappointed not securing the doubles point today. We put ourselves in position but didn’t finish.”
Penn State had the early advantage, clinching the doubles point on courts two and three. Four singles victories pushed the Illini past the Nittany Lions. Junior No. 9 Aleks Kovacevic put the Orange and Blue on the board in straight sets against No. 28 Constant de la Bassetiere, 6-3, 6-3. Junior Zeke Clark has been on a roll with a six-game winning streak after defeating Gabriel Nemeth, 6-2, 6-0. Freshman Siphosothando Montsi defeated Christos Antonopoulo, 6-3, 6-3 on court four. Sophomore No. 51 Alex Brown clinched his third match for the Illini this season after topping No. 91 Christian Lakoseljac in a tiebreaker game, 7-6(5).
“In singles, we were dialed in,” noted Dancer. “It is going to take that same mentality tomorrow.”
Illinois advances to the Big Ten Tournament final, looking to be crowned tournament champion for the 11th time in program history. The Illini will face No. 1 Ohio State on Sunday at 10 a.m. CT and will stream live on BTN Plus. Complimentary access to BTN2Go is available to viewers connected to the internet network of a Big Ten university. Fans elsewhere can sign up for the pay-per-view webcasts.
- The Illini improve to 55-12 at the Big Ten Tournament since 1996.
- Illinois has won 10 Big Ten Tournament titles (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2012, 2015) with two under Dancer’s watch (2012, 2015).
- Junior Zeke Clark extended his singles winning streak to six matches, while 13-7 in dual match play.
- Junior Aleks Kovacevic is 17-3 in singles play during dual match season.
- Doubles pair Kovacevic and Alex Brown are on a seven-game winning streak and 7-1 overall in dual match play.
#15 Illinois 4, Penn State 2
Singles competition: Order of Finish (1,3,5,4,2)
1. #9 Aleks Kovacevic (UI) def. #28 Constant De La Bassetiere (PSU) 6-3, 6-3
2. #51 Alex Brown (UI) def. #91 Christian Lakoseljac (PSU) 6-2, 7-6 (7-5)
3. Zeke Clark (UI) def. Gabriel Nemeth (PSU) 6-2, 6-0
4. Siphosothando Montsi (UI) def. Christos Antonopoulo (PSU) 6-3, 6-3
5. Ben Lieb (PSU) def. Vuk Budic (UI) 6-3, 6-4
6. Gui Gomes (UI) vs. Alp Sentay (PSU) 5-7, 2-3, unfinished
Doubles competition: Order of finish (1,3,2)
1. #52 Aleks Kovacevic/Alex Brown (UI) def. #36 Constant De La Bassetiere/Gabriel Nemeth (PSU) 6-1
2. Christian Lakoseljac/Christos Antonopoulo (PSU) def. Gui Gomes/Vuk Budic (UI) 6-4
3. Matt Galush/Ben Lieb (PSU) def. Fletcher Scott/Zeke Clark (UI) 6-3
Penn State 19-8
Illinois 18-7; National ranking #15
Big Ten Tournament Semifinals