Farris Gosea has won five straight matches and jumped 76 spots in this week's singles rankings to No. 30
Feb. 12, 2014
URBANA, Ill. - The No. 22 ranked Illini squad head to Houston, Texas, today to prepare for the National Indoor Championships. Illinois was given the No. 10 seed and will face the seventh seeded and ranked Oklahoma Sooners this Friday at 9 a.m. CT at the Met. The trip marks the team's first time back to the national tournament since 2011. The tournament will take place at two locations in Houston: the Downtown Club at the Met and the Galleria Tennis and Athletic Club, so be sure to match the correct live scoring link with the right location indicated on the bracket.
The Illini are coming off of a huge week at the Atkins Tennis Center in which they defeated No. 16 Notre Dame, No. 8 Texas A&M and No. 10 Texas, all teams participating in this weekend's tournament. The Illini handed all three teams their first respective losses of the season and scored their first win over the Longhorns since 2005. Furthermore, the Illini's three wins marked the first time since the 2011 season that the team secured three straight upsets over teams ranked in the top-20.
First up for the Illini at National Indoors is Oklahoma. Illinois is just 2-2 all-time vs. the Sooners. The last time these two squads met on the tennis court was way back in 1996, when Craig Tiley's squad emerged with a 6-1 win. Last season, Oklahoma advanced to the Round of 16 at the NCAA Championships.
NATIONAL INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
The Illini have quite the prominent history at the ITA National Indoor Championships. The Orange and Blue squad qualified for 15 straight years from 1997-2011. Illinois won the national team tournament twice, doing so in back-to-back years in 2003 and 2004. The Illini also boast the sixth most appearances in the tournament final, reaching the championship match five times. The tournament marks the first time anyone on the current team has played at National Indoors.
SCOUTING THE SOONERS
Oklahoma enters the weekend ranked seventh in the country from the last poll set on Feb. 4, and thus received the No. 7 seed at National Indoors. The Illini will face their fourth straight undefeated team as the Sooners enter Friday's contest at 6-0. Oklahoma qualified with a 4-1 win vs. Virginia Tech then a 4-0 shutout vs. Big Ten school Northwestern. However, Oklahoma has yet to face an opponent ranked in the top-25.
The Sooners have quite the one-two punch in Guillermo Alcorta and Axel Alvarez Llamas. In the latest poll released Feb. 11, the duo were ranked second and fourth in the country in singles, respectively. In addition, Alcorta is 5-0 at the No. 1 spot and Alvarez is 5-0 at No. 2 singles.
Oklahoma also presents plenty of depth, as Andrew Harris is ranked 28th and Dane Webb 46th. Both Harris and Webb are undefeated at 3-0 and 4-0, respectively, with both rotating with each other between the No. 3 and No. 4 spots.
In doubles, Webb teams with Harris at the No. 1 position. The combo is ranked 12th in the country and are 3-0 on the young dual season. Alcorta teams with Alvarez and are 4-0 in No. 2 doubles while Nick Papac and Peerakit Siributwong have recorded a 3-0 mark at No. 3 doubles.
B1G TENNIS ATHLETE OF THE WEEK
On Feb. 11, the conference office named Tim Kopinski Big Ten Tennis Athlete of the Week. It was the junior's second weekly honor of his career. Kopinski played a huge factor in the Illini's recent home stand sweep, earning four combined singles and doubles wins over opponents ranked in the top-25. His notable singles victories include No. 13 Jeremy Efferding of Texas A&M and the clutch third set tiebreak over No. 24 George Goldhoff of Texas.
NEW ILLINI RANKINGS
On Feb. 11, the ITA released new singles and doubles rankings. After suffering his first singles loss at North Carolina, Jared Hiltzik dropped four spots to No. 8. Despite the fact, Hiltzik bounced back with three straight wins last week to move to 6-1 overall.
Tim Kopinski moved from No. 46 to a career high No. 24. Kopinski is 5-1 in the No. 3 spot this season and has won three straight matches in a row.
Farris Gosea has had the most impressive start to any Illini this spring. Gosea jumped all the way from No. 106 to No. 30 in the latest poll. Primarily playing in the No. 6 spot a season ago, Gosea has been a force at No. 2 singles, achieving five straight wins, including three vs. opponents ranked in the top-40.
In doubles, Kopinski and Ross Guignon only fell one spot to No. 5 in the country. The duo are 4-2 in dual matches this season. Last week, the pairing surrendered just three combined games in both their wins over top-25 ranked teams.
If the Illini were to be victorious Friday morning and advance to the quarterfinals, they will await the winner between the 15th-seeded Duke Blue Devils and 2nd-seeded UCLA Bruins. That match would take place at Noon CT on Saturday. If Illinois is not successful, they will move to the left side of the bracket and await the loser of said match instead.