The No. 15 Illini open the ITA Kick-Off Weekend with No. 27 Virginia Tech on Friday.
Jan. 28, 2010
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The No. 15 Illini (0-1) return to action Friday to host the second annual Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Kick-Off Weekend, Jan. 29-30 at Atkins Tennis Center. Illinois is the top seed at its site and will face fourth-seeded Virginia Tech (1-0) in the second match of the day on Friday at 6 p.m., while second-seeded Boise State (1-0) and third-seeded Washington (4-0) are scheduled to square off at 2 p.m.
"This event always corresponds with our top goals for the season," head coach Brad Dancer said. "Putting your team into a field with other elite teams is the best way to create more opportunities for Illinois tennis. We are fully aware of the talent and competitive spirit of all three teams this weekend. For anyone that enjoys college tennis, you'll be treated to some tremendous fighting and courageous tennis with a bid to the Sweet 16 of the National Indoor Championships on the line. As evidenced in practice already, our guys are rebounding strong from the Virginia loss and will be ready to go Friday night."
Live stats will be available for all matches HERE.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
The ITA Kick-Off Weekend event features 60 teams battling for the final 15 spots in the 2010 ITA National Team Indoor Championships, Feb. 12-15 at the Boar's Head Sports Club in Charlottesville, Va. The 15 schools that win both of their matches will receive invitations, while this year's host, the University of Virginia, received an automatic bid into the tournament. Illinois has hosted the ITA National Team Indoor Championships twice in the last three years in 2007 and 2009.
The top 15 nationally ranked teams in the final 2009 team rankings were chosen as host sites. Illinois, which finished 12th in the rankings, was selected to host along with Alabama, Baylor, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC, Tennessee and Stanford.
LAST TIME OUT
Illinois' home opener was spoiled last Friday night, as No. 2 Virginia improved to 2-0 with a 6-1 victory. Junior Abe Souza prevented the shutout with a 4-6, 6-3, 1-0 (10-8) defeat of No. 16 Jarmere Jenkins.
The Cavaliers jumped on top early, as No. 17 Drew Courtney and Lee Singer defeated junior Connor Roth and Souza, 8-1, before sealing the doubles point shortly after, though the Illini duo of junior Johnny Hamui and sophomore Dennis Nevolo were able to avoid the sweep with an 8-5 victory over Sanam Singh and Michael Shabaz. Virginia carried its momentum into singles play, claiming the first four matches in straight sets, before Souza put Illinois on the scoreboard with the win.
CAMPBELL'S/ITA NATIONAL TEAM RANKINGS
Despite the loss, the Illini remained at No. 15 in the latest Campbell's/ITA national rankings released Tuesday, as did Washington at No. 26 and Virginia Tech at No. 27, while Boise State moved up one spot to No 21.
Boise State emerged as one of the top programs in the country last season after advancing to the NCAA Sweet 16 for just the second time in school history and first since 1997. The Broncos picked up where they left in their 2010 season opener, posting a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over Oregon last Thursday to give 14th-year head coach Greg Patton his 300th career win with Boise State. Leading the way for the Broncos this season is sophomore James Meredith, who is currently ranked No. 35 in singles, while senior Vicente Joli also will see action as the lone senior on the squad and one of just three upperclassmen.
Washington is off to a hot start thus far with four straight wins to open the season. The Huskies swept visiting Gonzaga, 7-0 in their season opener, before they edged No. 53 Arkansas on the road, 4-3, and then returned home to defeat Portland, 7-0 and UC Irvine, 6-1. Washington secured its 15th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance under 16th-year head coach Matt Anger in 2009 and return several key members from that squad including junior Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan, who earned first-team All-Pac 10 honors in 2009, junior Martin Kildahl, who garnered honorable mention All-Pac 10, and lone senior Derek Drabble.
Rounding out the group is Virginia Tech, which is coming off a 5-2 defeat of No. 14 Kentucky on Wednesday. The Hokies rallied back in singles after losing the doubles point and senior Yoann Re clinched the match with a three-set victory over No. 8 Eric Quigley, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2. Virginia Tech got the spring season going with its own Hokie Challenge, Jan. 22-24 that featured players from No. 23 Auburn, No. 48 Indiana, No. 63 Harvard and College of Charleston. The Hokies finished with 13 singles wins and eight in doubles, as sophomore Luka Somen, No. 100 junior Sebastien Jacques and Re all went 3-0, while junior Will Beck finished 2-0 and sophomore Corrado Degl' Incerti Tocci picked up his team-best 13th victory in singles.
UP NEXT FOR THE ILLINI
The Illini will hit the road next week for a pair of tough nonconference matches at No. 18 Duke on Feb. 5 and No. 5 Tennessee on Feb. 7.