Coach Dancer's Illini will play three opponents this week that have qualified for the National Indoor Championships
Feb. 4, 2014
URBANA, Ill. - The Fighting Illini men's tennis team will play three matches in five days, starting this Wednesday when they make their Atkins Tennis Center debut at 6 p.m. First up will be #22 Notre Dame, followed by #9 Texas A&M Friday at 6 p.m. and then #14 Texas at Noon on Sunday. This week has major implications for these will be the final matches before the ITA National Indoor Championships. All three opponents this week have qualified along with the Illini and all three are undefeated.
The Illinois marketing department will take care of all the empty student stomachs that are also hungry for some Illini tennis this week. On Wednesday's home opener, we will be giving out free wings for all Illinois students, and on Friday, free burritos will be given to the first 50 students. Finally, on Sunday, free subs will be distributed to the first 100 fans in attendance.
To help promote free wings Wednesday, Coach Dancer and sophomore Julian Childers competed in a Blazin' Wings Challenge, where they tried to consume 12 of the hottest wings in under six minutes. Check out the hilarious footage below:
It has been an up and down ride for the Orange and Blue already this season. Two weeks ago, the Illini qualified for its first National Indoor Championships since 2011 with victories over No. 25 Clemson and Michigan. However, last weekend, Illinois' road trip to North Carolina resulted in 5-2 losses to No. 15 Duke and the UNC Tarheels.
Jared Hiltzik will look to bounce back from his first singles loss of the dual match season, losing to North Carolina's Brayden Schnur 6-5(5), 6-4. The sophomore will continue to lead the Illini in the No. 1 singles position and is currently ranked No. 4 in the country. In addition, No. 106 Farris Gosea improved to 3-1 after a 2-0 weekend in the No. 2 singles slot, which saw victories over No. 36 Brett Clark of UNC and Fred Saba of Duke.
It was also a tough weekend in doubles, dropping the opening points to both ACC schools. The Illini have started just 1-3 this season in obtaining the doubles point and will look to get back on track this week with its three top-40 ranked doubles teams.
SCOUTING THE FIGHTING IRISH
Notre Dame is currently rolling on all cylinders, as they enter Wednesday's match unblemished at 6-0. The Fighting Irish have defeated Big Ten schools Michigan State and Minnesota. Notre Dame qualified for National Indoors with a 4-3 upset over No. 8 Kentucky and then defeated them again eight days later at home by the same score. The Illini are 22-24 against the Irish in the all-time series and fell to Notre Dame last March by the score of 4-1.
Greg Andrews is back to lead Notre Dame once more, currently ranked 22nd in the country. However, the senior is on a three-match losing streak in singles play and is 2-3 against nationally ranked foes. In doubles, Andrews teams with Alex Lawson. The duo is ranked 21st in the nation and is off to a 5-0 start in doubles, with all their wins coming from the No. 1 position.
SCOUTING THE AGGIES
Texas A&M will also arrive to Urbana with a 6-0 mark. The Aggies have yet to play on the road this year with all six matches played in College Station. Texas A&M played a double header on Monday and recorded a 4-1 win over SMU and a 6-1 win over Nicholls State. The Illini do hold a 10-6 advantage in the all-time series with the last encounter occurring in 2012, where the Orange and Blue were triumphant 4-3 at home.
In singles, the Aggies boast three top-40 players in No. 13 Jeremy Efferding, No. 19 Harrison Adams and No. 38 Shane Vinsant. More impressively, Texas A&M also utilizes two top-20 ranked doubles teams as well in No. 6 Junior Ore and Jackson Withrow and No. 20 Effferding and Jordan Szabo.
SCOUTING THE LONGHORNS
Texas rounds out the group with yet another 6-0 record to start the spring, but they will play in Ann Arbor vs. Michigan on Feb. 7 before arriving to Atkins. The Longhorns traveled to Nashville where they qualified for the Indoor Championships with a 4-0 win over host Vanderbilt and and 4-3 win over Wake Forest. Furthermore, Texas' last match resulted in their fifth shutout, with a 4-0 victory over Alabama. Historically, the Illini have not found success against Texas, just 1-9 all-time. The Illini's lone win came in 2005, when Craig Tiley's squad won 5-2 at home on Feb. 5.
Texas is powered by No. 24 George Goldhoff, No. 35 Lloyd Glasspool and No. 75 Soren Hess-Olesen, with the latter holding a 4-0 mark in the No. 1 singles position. Glasspool has started every match at No. 2 and is 5-2 while Goldholff is 3-1 at No. 3. In doubles, Glasspool teams with Hess-Olesen and are ranked fifth in the country with a 5-0 record in the No. 1 position.
After this week, Illinois will have four days to prepare for the National Indoor Championships. The 16-team tournament will start on Feb. 14 in Houston, Texas and his hosted by Texas A&M.
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