Men's Tennis
#25 Illinois Welcomes #5 Duke, #15 Tennessee

Tim Kopinski and company will look to knock off two undefeated teams this weekend in #5 Duke and #15 Tennessee
Tim Kopinski and company will look to knock off two undefeated teams this weekend in #5 Duke and #15 Tennessee

Jan. 31, 2013

URBANA, Ill. - The 25th ranked University of Illinois men's tennis team will look to improve their 2-2 record when they continue their five match home stand this weekend when they host the No. 5 Duke Blue Devils on Friday, Feb. 1, at 6 p.m. CT, then receive a rematch with No. 15 University of Tennessee, Saturday, Feb. 2, at 6 p.m. CT as well. 

For Starters

Illinois and Duke are well acquainted with each other, as the two tennis squads have clashed in 14 straight seasons with the Orange and Blue owning a 12-5 overall series advantage. In fact, it was just last year that the Blue Devils snapped a 10 game series winning streak for the Illini. Illinois played Duke in Durham on Feb. 3, 2012 and suffered a 7-0 defeat. The Illini look to gain back the series momentum Friday night. 

Meanwhile, the Illini look to exact revenge on the Volunteers as they once again invade the Atkins center, all in a span of one week. The Orange and Blue will look to change their fortunes as they have dropped their past six matches against Tennessee and have not defeated the Volunteers since Feb. 3, 2007.

Scouting the Opponent

Both opponents enter their matches with momentum as they won their respective ITA Kick-off site tournaments last weekend to advance to the ITA National Team Indoor Championships. Both contests this weekend provide the Illini with an opportunity to knock off undefeated teams.

Duke's road to the Indoor Championships was a perfect one, as they started with a 7-0 win over No. 46 Middle Tennessee State. Then the Blue Devils followed that performance with a 4-0 win over No. 37 Northwestern in the Championship game. Duke enters the match-up with Illinois with a 5-0 record after also claiming victories against Hawaii, Elon and Charlotte. Duke has yet to yield a point to its opponent.

Tennessee returns to Champaign 9-0 after downing the Illini  4-0 on Jan. 25, and then advancing to the Indoor Championships after beating North Carolina 4-1. However, the match with Illinois was much closer than the score let on, as both squads won three first sets each and a total of four singles matches went the full three sets. 

Weekend Promotions

The Illinois marketing department is proud to present Flapjack Friday when the Illini host the Duke Blue Devils on Feb. 1 at 6 p.m. All fans in attendance can receive free pancakes cooked on site. In addition, Friday's game counts as a Krush Road Trip Point.

On Saturday, Feb. 2, get ready to go Super Bowl-ing as the Orange and Blue receive a rematch with Tennessee. Tennis bowling will occur at the break while bowls of snacks will be available for everyone.

ITA Rankings

After starting the season ranked 16th in country by ITA, the Illini suffered a slight drop, getting bumped down to the No. 25 spot. Freshman Jared Hiltzik is the lone nationally ranked singles competitor, checking in at No. 114. Hiltzik, along with senior Stephen Hoh and sophomore Tim Kopinski were included in the ITA Midwest singles rankings, checking in at the No. 10, 11 and 12 spots respectively. In addition, Kopinski, along with sophomore Farris Gosea were ranked No. 56 in the ITA Men's National Doubles Rankings and second in the Midwest.  The doubles team of Hiltzik and freshman Alex Jesse ranked in the Midwest as well, landing the No. 9 spot. 

Duke has all six singles competitors ranked: No. 11 Henrique Cunha, No. 14 Michael Redlicki, No. 23 Fred Saba, No. 38 Raphael Hemmeler, No. 46 Chris Mengel and No. 123 Jason Tahir. In addition, Duke will provide a major obstacle on doubles, as Cunha and Hemmeler are ranked first in the country. Joining the duo, Mengel and Saba are ranked No. 37 while Redlicki and Tahir are No. 39.

Meanwhile, Tennessee enters the weekend with two ranked singles competitors in No. 9 Mikelis Libietis and No. 40 Hunter Reese. On the doubles side, the duo of Libietis and John Collins are ranked 14th, followed by Edward Jones and Jarryd Chaplin at No. 21.

ITA Kick-Off Recap

The Orange and Blue lost their first two dual matches of the 2013 campaign over the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, falling to then No. 19 Tennessee 4-0 before dropping to then No. 24 Tulsa by the score of 4-2. Against Tulsa, Jared Hiltzik fought back for the Illini in number one singles competition, downing Japie De Klerk 6-2, 6-3. Ross Guignon picked up the second point for Illinois in number six singles when he downed Tristan Jackson 6-0, 6-3. 

Up Next

The Illini conclude their five game home stand Saturday, Feb. 9, at 6 p.m., when they welcome the University of Kentucky to the Atkins Tennis Center, home of the 2013 National Championships.