#17 Illinois To Open Big Ten Slate
Feb. 28, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - After knocking off #5 Duke and #7 Kentucky in a span of eight days to kick off February, the University of Illinois men's tennis team has had two weeks off of competition to gear up for the Big Ten slate of the schedule starting this weekend. First up, the Orange and Blue welcome the Iowa Hawkeyes to Atkins on Friday, March 1, at 6 p.m. CT, before clashing with the Northwestern Wildcats on Saturday at 6 p.m. CT as well.
In 2012, the Fighting Illini finished tied for third in Big Ten play with an 8-3 record. Meanwhile, Iowa went winless at 0-11 and Northwestern finished in a tie for fifth at 7-4. When the Illini went on to claim the Big Ten Tournament Championship, they first had to defeat their quarterfinals opponent in Northwestern, shutting out the Wildcats, 4-0.
The Orange and Blue enjoy the overall series advantage against both opponents this weekend. Illinois leads 67-23 vs. Iowa and 58-37-2 vs. Northwestern. The Illini have not lost to Iowa since the 1996 season, currently on a 17 game win streak. Similarly, Illinois has not lost to Northwestern since 1997 as they are on a 21 game win streak against the in-state rival.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENT
Iowa is 6-2 on the year, having played all eight matches at home. the Hawkeyes started 2013 with a loss vs. Illinois State, but followed that with six straight victories over opponents such as Bradley, Creighton and Butler to name a few. Yet, Iowa is coming off a 5-2 loss against Drake.
Northwestern has been busy to start the season, playing in 16 total matches already, accumulating a 13-3 record along the way. The Wildcats started with six straight wins, including notable victories over No. 34 Louisville, No. 30 Notre Dame and No. 43 Virginia Tech. Northwestern's three losses have all come from top-50 opponents in No. 5 Duke, No. 40 Vanderbilt and No. 47 Harvard. The Wildcats enter Saturday's matchup with a 5-1 road record and riding a five game win streak.
The Illinois marketing department is once again proud to announce Flapjack Friday for the March 1 encounter with Iowa, in which all fans in attendance are welcome to free pancakes.
On Saturday, March 2, fans can register to win an autographed basketball by the men's basketball seniors and Coach Groce. The contest vs. Northwestern also marks the Advantage Illinois Corporate Sponsor Appreciation Day. For information on how to become a member, please email Jim Tressler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Illini inched closer back to their preseason ranking, jumping two slots to the No. 17 spot this week. In addition, after a great start to his freshman campaign, Jared Hiltzik climbs an impressive 76 spots from No. 114 to No. 37. Hiltzik also has company this time around in the new singles rankings, as Tim Kopinski is now ranked 113th and Ross Guignon 118th.
Of the two opponents this weekend, Northwestern is the only one ranked, checking in at the No. 20 spot. In singles competition, Northwestern is led by Spencer Wolf who ranks 120th.
THE ELUSIVE POINT
After six matches under ITA rules in 2013, the Fighting Illini are still trying to capture the elusive doubles point to start the contest. When Illinois knocked off No. 5 Duke and No. 7 Kentucky, they had to rally down 1-0 in each contest, claiming four of the six singles matches. Illinois came very close in their last outing vs Kentucky when it came down to the last doubles match between Roberts/Rossi and Hiltzik/Gosea. The contest was settled in a tie-break in which Kentucky won 7-4.
LAST TIME OUT
Illinois tennis fans rushed the court for the second time in the 2013 season and surrounded Tim Kopinski, after the sophomore secured the 4-3 upset victory over the formerly undefeated No. 7 Kentucky Wildcats. The win marked the first time since 2007 that the Illini had knocked off two Top-7 nationally ranked teams. Other point collectors for the Illini that day include Bruno Abdelnour, Farris Gosea and Jared Hiltzik's upset over No. 15 Tom Jomby.
The Illini have a quick turnaround and short break from conference action when they travel to South Bend, Ind., for matches against Illinois State and host Notre Dame. The Orange and Blue will battle the Redbirds at 9 a.m. CT before meeting the Fighting Irish at 5 p.m. CT.