Reigning Big Ten Player of the Week Marc Spicijaric and the Illini head to No. 5 Virginia on Friday.
Jan. 21, 2009
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The No. 15 Illinois men's tennis team returns to action this Friday with a showdown in Charlottesville, Vir., against No. 5 Virginia at 5 p.m. CT. The Illini are coming off a short week after opening the dual-match season at Atkins Tennis Center last weekend. The Orange and Blue are off to a good start after taking down Toledo, 6-1, and Ball State, 7-0, in a doubleheader on Friday. The Illini picked up where they left off on Saturday with a 6-1 upset of No. 14 Pepperdine.
"We're concentrated on going to Virginia and playing as hard as we can at their place," head coach Brad Dancer said. "The team is very focused and may be the most focused team, from top to bottom, I've seen in my five years here and we'll see if we can translate that onto the courts on Friday night."
A full recap and results will be available at fightingillini.com at the conclusion of the match.
STATE OF THE ILLINI
The Illinois men's tennis is off to a hot start for the 2009 season. The 3-0 Illini are currently ranked No. 15 in the first ITA team rankings of the season. The Illini also boast four players in the individual rankings top-115, with sophomore Roy Kalmanovich leading the way at No. 23, followed by freshman Dennis Nevolo at No. 41. Rounding out the Illini receiving singles recognition are senior Marc Spicijaric at No. 102 and junior Meedo El Tabakh at No. 114.
SCOUTING THE CAVALIERS
The No. 5 Virginia Cavaliers opened up their 2009 season on Tuesday, Jan. 20 with a 7-0 win over No. 64 William & Mary at the McCormick-Nagelsen Tennis Center. The Cavaliers are led by No. 11-ranked Michael Shabaz and No. 24-ranked Sanam Singh. In all, six Cavaliers are ranked in the top-110 singles rankings including No. 43 Dominic Inglot, No. 68 Houston Barrick, No. 108 Drew Courtney and No. 109 Lee Singer.
ILLINOIS VS. VIRGINIA HISTORY
This is the seventh all-time meeting between Illinois and Virginia, with UVA leading the series 4-2. Virginia kicked off the rivalry winning the first meeting at the LSU Spring Sports Festival on March 19, 1981. Illinois has gone 2-1 at home against the Cavaliers, most recently dropping a heartbreaking 4-3 decision last year to then-No. 1 Virginia at the Atkins Tennis Center.
OPENING WEEKEND RECAP
The Illini opened the dual-match season with a doubleheader on Friday, Jan. 16 with Toledo and Ball State. The Orange and Blue started the day off with a 6-1 victory over the Toledo Rockets. In the nightcap, the Illini downed the Ball State Cardinals, 7-0, to start the season off an early 2-0. Against the No. 14 Pepperdine Waves, the Illini came out focused and determined, sweeping all three doubles matches, including an upset of No. 45-ranked Omar Altmann and Bassam Beidas. In singles, senior Marc Spicijaric got the ball rolling with a quick 6-2, 6-2, straight sets victory over No. 57-ranked Mahmoud Kamel. Four Illini captured wins at their respective positions, giving the Orange and Blue a 6-1 upset over No. 14 Pepperdine.
SPICIJARIC EARNS FIRST CAREER CONFERENCE ACCOLADE
Senior Marc Spicijaric was named Big Ten Player of the Week for the week ending Jan. 18, the conference office announced Tuesday, Jan. 20. The No. 101-ranked Spicijaric played a vital role in each of the Illini victories over the weekend of Jan.16-17, helping Illinois begin the 2009 campaign a perfect 3-0, including an upset of No. 14 Pepperdine. In singles, Spicijaric led the Illini charge against the Ball State Cardinals, as the Orange and Blue swept all matches. Playing at No. 1 singles, Spicijaric knocked off Ball State's top player Eduardo Pavia, 6-2, 6-2. The next day, the Wesley Chapel, Fla., native wasted little time in upsetting No. 57-ranked Mahmoud Kamel of Pepperdine, 6-2, 6-2. In doubles, Spicijaric teamed up with senior Brian Livingston to go 2-0 on the weekend.
DELIC ADVANCES TO THIRD ROUND OF AUSSIE OPEN
2003 NCAA Champion and former Illini Amer Delic continued his impressive run at the 2009 Australian Open with a comeback victory over No. 28 Paul-Henri Mathieu of France 1-6, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3), 9-7, in the second round. Delic, who received a spot in the draw as a lucky loser from qualifying when other players withdrew, faces No. 3-ranked and defending champion Novak Djokovic in the third round of the Aussie Open.
It was the first time in his career Delic's won a match after losing the first two sets.This is the first time he's reached the third round in his 10th career Grand Slam tournament. His previous best was the second round at the Australian Open in 2006, '07, `08 and '07 Wimbledon where he lost to then No. 5 Djokovic 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, in the second round.
NEVOLO NAMED BIG TEN PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Freshman Dennis Nevolo earned his first weekly laurel after posting an unblemished 6-0 slate in his inaugural spring tournament with the Fighting Illini last weekend at the University of South Florida Invitational in Tampa, Fla. The No. 41-ranked Nevolo led the Illini charge going 4-0 in singles and 2-0 in doubles. Nevolo opened the weekend with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Michael Moore of Florida A&M. On the second day of the tournament, Nevolo knocked off two opponents, defeating Florida State's Vahid Mirzadeh, 6-2, 6-1, and USF's Mark Olijaca, 6-4, 6-0. Rounding out his singles wins, Nevolo closed out the USF Invitational with a straight sets victory over Leon Nasemann of Memphis in a 6-4, 6-0 decision. In doubles, the Gurnee, Ill., native also saw success with two different teammates, partnering up with sophomores Roy Kalmanovich and Waylon Chin to notch two decisive victories against Florida A&M and Memphis, respectively, on the weekend.
ILLINI SET TO HOST 2009 ITA NATIONAL INDOOR TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS
The University of Illinois Men's Tennis Team will play host to the top 15 teams in the nation at the 2009 Intercollegiate Tennis Association's (ITA) National Team Indoor Championships February 13 - 16 at Midtown Tennis Club in Chicago. Visit the official tournament website at www.nationalteamindoors.com for more information.
The Illini have two weeks off before returning to the friendly confines of the Atkins Tennis Center for a Feb. 6 match against the No. 35 Duke Bluedevils at 6 p.m. The Orange and Blue then welcome the No. 8 Tennessee Volunteers on Feb. 7 at 6 p.m.