No. 15 Seed Illinois Set To Host NCAA Tournament; Begins Play On Friday Against Western Michigan

Fighting Illini Tennis

URBANA, May 2, 2019 (Press Release)

The Illinois men’s tennis team received the No. 15 seed in the 2019 NCAA Men’s Tennis Tournament and will host the NCAA First and Second Rounds at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex on May 3 and 4. Illinois is 31-4 when playing at home during the NCAA Tournament and last hosted the event last season. Overall, the Orange and Blue will be making their 24th consecutive NCAA appearance.

Opening up the tournament are California and Summit League champions, Drake, at 1 p.m. CT on Friday. Illinois will conclude the final match on Friday at 4 p.m. CT as they face reigning Mid-American Champions, Western Michigan. The winners on Friday will square off Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. CT.

The winner of the second round will advance to the NCAA Super Regional on May 10 or 11. Each super-regional site will feature two teams playing a single-elimination format. The super-regional winners advance to the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Florida, where the eight teams will compete for the national championship May 16-19.

Scouting the Opposition – NCAA Tournament, Round One | Western Michigan (18-8)

In his 23rd season as Western Michigan’s head coach, Dave Morin built a program that is the gold standard in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) with a 402-199 record and 22 MAC Championships (nine regular season and 12 tournament championships) under his reigh… Morin has taken his team to the NCAA Tournament 13 times since the MAC Tournament champion began receiving an automatic bid in the 1999 season… The Broncos have won 35 matches against Big Ten opponents since 2000, including a 15-year win span. It was in that span that the Broncos achieved their highest national ranking in program history with No. 31 during the 2018 season… Morin has garnered many honors for his coaching efforts including 11 MAC Coach of the Year honors (1994, 1998, 200, 2004, 2006-09, 2012, 2016, 2018) and 2012 WMU Athletics Hall of Fame inductee… The 2017-18 season was a record-breaking year for the Broncos as they continued their MAC dominance, going 22-5 overall and 7-0 in the conference regular season, winning their 24th regular season MAC conference title and then picked up two more wins in the tournament to claim the program’s 12th tournament title… This season the Broncos earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships with their 13th MAC tournament title.

By the Numbers: NCAA Tournament

All-Time Record: 49-22
Best Finish: 
Champion (2003)
24 consecutives

  • First Round: 3
  • Second Round: 20
  • Round of 16: 16
  • Quarterfinals: 7
  • Semifinals: 3
  • Finals: 2

Illinois in the NCAA Tournament

  • 2019 marks the 24th appearance for the Fighting Illini in the NCAA Championships. The Illini boast a record of 49-22 in NCAA Tournament play, highlighted by a 2003 NCAA National Championship.
  • The Orange and Blue have appeared in 24-straight NCAA Tournaments, a streak that began in 1996. Entering 2019, Illinois has hosted the NCAA First and Second Rounds 18 times with a record of 31-4 when competing in NCAA Tournament play at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex.
  • The Illini are 20-3 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and have not lost in the opening round since 1998.
  • In 2018, UI went 3-1 in NCAA play. Illinois hosted the NCAA tournament for the 18th time at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex. The Illini swept the first three matches, including a thriller against top-10 ranked TCU. The Orange and Blue’s run came to an end after falling to the eventual NCAA champions, Wake Forest, 4-0.
  • Illinois has won one NCAA Team Championship in 2003 after defeating the Vanderbilt Commodores, 4-3, in Athens, Georgia. The 2003 completed the highly-coveted NCAA “Triple Crown” by winning the team championship, as well as the singles and doubles individual championships.

Schedule of Events (All Times Central Time)

First Round – Friday, May 3
1 p.m. – California vs. Drake
4 p.m. – No. 15 seed Illinois vs. Western Michigan

Second Round – Saturday, May 4
3 p.m. – California/Drake winner vs. Illinois/Western Michigan winner

Ticket Information

Adults: $5.00

Student: $3.00

Tickets for the First and Second Rounds can be purchased at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex starting one hour prior to the first match each day. One ticket is valid for one admission to all matches on the day the ticket is purchased.

NCAA Individual Championships – Singles Draw

Junior Aleks Kovacevic and sophomore Alex Brown have qualified to the 2019 NCAA Singles Championship at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla from May 20-25. This will be the first appearance for both Brown and Kovacevic in the NCAA Singles Championship.

First Team All-Big Ten honoree, Kovacevic earned the No. 8 seed in the singles championship due to an impressive season with a 28-6 overall singles record, including 17-3 in dual-match play. Two-time First Team All-Big Ten honoree, Brown has compiled a 13-9 dual match singles record and 7-1 record in conference play.

Illinois has won four NCAA Individual titles in program history. The lone singles championship came in 2003, when Amer Delic defeated Baylor’s Benedikt Dorsch, 6-4, 6-3 to claim the title in Athens, Ga. 

Postseason Signals the Arrival of Awards Season

Juniors Aleks Kovacevic and Zeke Clark, along with sophomore Alex Brown were named to the First-Team All-Big Ten list on April 25. This marked the first All-Big Ten recognition for Kovacevic and Clark, while Brown earned his second First Team All-Big Ten honor. Junior Vuk Budic was also chosen as one of the 12 Sportsmanship Award honorees.

This marked the 13th time in program history that the Orange and Blue had at least three student-athletes selected to all-conference teams. With the addition of Kovacevic and Clark, the Fighting Illini now has 82 tennis players with First Team All-Big Ten honors.

Among the remaining yearly ITA Awards up for grabs this season are: ITA Arthur Ashe Jr. Leadership and Sportsmanship Award, ITA Senior Player of the Year Award, ITA Most Improved Senior Award, ITA Assistant Coach of the Year, Wilson ITA Coach of the Year, ITA Rookie of the Year, ITA Player to Watch, and ITA Community Service and Outreach Award. The Illini have 12 awards spread amongst 10 people from the above categories to date:

  • ITA Arthur Ashe Jr. Leadership and Sportsmanship Award: Phil Stolt (2004), Abe Souza (2011), Tim Kopinski (2015), Aron Hiltzik (2018)
  • ITA National Player to Watch: Kevin Anderson (2007)
  • ITA Senior Player of the Year Award: Ryler DeHeart (2006), Ryan Rowe (2008), Tim Kopinski (2015), Jared Hiltzik (2016)
  • Wilson ITA National Coach of the Year: Craig Tiley (1999, 2003)
  • ITA Assistant Coach of the Year: Bruce Berque (2003)