#6 Illinois Set for Double-Header Sunday
March 7, 2014
URBANA, Ill. - The No. 6 Fighting Illini men's tennis team (7-4, 1-0) look to build upon its win over then No. 23 Northwestern to start Big Ten play, when they welcome Purdue (6-1, 0-0) on Sunday. The match is scheduled for 12 p.m. CT inside Atkins Tennis Center. The Illini's double-header day continues with Detroit Mercy, tentatively scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CT.
The Illini look to build upon its No. 6 national ranking and stay undefeated in Big Ten play when they welcome the 6-1 Purdue Boilermakers. Illinois is coming off of its 24th straight win over Northwestern.
Farris Gosea competed in the No. 1 singles position for the first time in his career, defeating No. 44 Raleigh Smith 6-2, 6-1. In fact, the junior has compiled quite the resume already this season, defeating four of the last five players ranked in the top-50 in singles, all in straight sets.
The Orange and Blue have received great singles matches performances from several of its players this season, as five Illini have recorded at least six dual match victories in 11 total matches played. Blake Bazarnik is 6-2, Tim Kopinski is 6-3, No. 1 singles player Jared Hiltzik is 6-3 and Ross Guignon is the hottest player on the team thus far, the winner of six straight.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
Out of all Big Ten opponents, Illinois has found the most success against Purdue, accumulating a 95-10-1 against the Boilermakers. The Illini have won 23 consecutive matches against Purdue, last dropping to the Boilermakers in 1993. Last season, the Orange and Blue defeated Purdue by the score of 5-3.
Purdue enters Sunday's contest the winner of five straight, coming off of wins over DePaul and Bradley to begin the month of March. However, the Boilermakers are 0-1 against top-25 teams, dropping 6-1 to No. 7 Baylor on Feb. 2.
Meanwhile, the all-time series between the Illini and Detroit Mercy has been limited, but the Orange and Blue have never lost to the Titans, currently 2-0. The two last squared off in 2012 where Illinois won 4-0. In the first encounter, the Illini took it 5-0.
Detroit Mercy has lost three straight, as the Titans are fresh off a 4-3 loss to IPFW. The Titans have already faced a Big Ten opponent this season in Michigan State, dropping 7-0 to the Spartans on Jan. 11.
ILLINI IN THE RANKINGS
The March 4 ITA poll moved the Fighting Illini up yet another spot, as they now sit with a No. 6 national ranking. The 2014 team will look to eclipse the team high ranking set by the 2011 squad (No. 4).
Singles and doubles rankings remain unchanged for the week, thus Jared Hiltzik remains locked at No. 8 in singles. Farris Gosea will look to keep his rise in the rankings going, currently at No. 23. Gosea is 8-2 overall, playing all but one match at No. 2 singles. Tim Kopinski is ranked 33rd in the country, with his season high being No. 24.
Kopinski and Guignon tied their career high No. 4 doubles ranking. In addition, Hiltzik and Jesse are ranked 45th in the nation.
GETTING THE DOUBLES POINT
The Illini have recently gained momentum in doubles play after struggling early in the season. The Orange and Blue started off the year with obtaining the early 1-0 advantage over Clemson, but then unfortunately lost the next six straight doubles points. Illinois has since rebounded by winning the last three of four doubles point opportunities.
Farris Gosea teamed with Alex Jesse for the first time this year. The switch occurred last Sunday in the Northwestern match as head coach Brad Dancer continues to experiment in doubles. The result was an 8-6 victory that earned the Illini the doubles point.
BIG TEN WEEKLY AWARD WINNING TRIO
On March 4, the conference office named Farris Gosea Big Ten Tennis Athlete of the Week, as the junior earned his first weekly award of his career. Even more impressive, for the first time since 2009, three different Illini have been named Big Ten Tennis Athlete of the Week in the same season, with Gosea following in the footsteps of Jared Hiltzik and Tim Kopinski.
ILLINOIS CHOSEN FOR COLLEGE MATCHDAY SERIES
The United States Tennis Association in conjunction with ESPN announced last month that the Illinois men's tennis team was chosen to be part of the 2014 College Match Day series. Thus, the Illini's March 14 contest vs. Pepperdine will be streamed live on ESPN3, and those who come out to the Atkins Tennis Center will be able to enjoy the 53-foot interactive Fan Experience trailer that will be on site.
College MatchDay is a weekly series that highlights marquee team matches and features the best programs, players and coaches from around the country. Every match on ESPN3 will follow a unique, experimental format, as proposed by an advisory group of NCAA Division I athletic directors, in which all six singles matches will be played first, with a best-of-three tiebreak sets format. Each singles match will be worth one point toward the team total, with four points required to win the team match.
Once one team reaches four points and clinches the match, the remaining matches will not be completed. In the case of a 3-3 tie after the singles matches, three doubles matches - played using 10-point super tiebreaks - will be used to determine the winner in what amounts to college tennis' version of "overtime." The team that wins two of the three doubles matches wins the team match.
A LOOK AHEAD
The Illini stay home next weekend for a big double-header at the Atkins Tennis Center on Friday March 14. First up is USF at 11 a.m., followed by the College Match Day contest vs. Pepperdine at 6 p.m.