Illini Set for State of Michigan Showdowns
April 4, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois men's tennis team continue their two week road slate as they travel to the state of Michigan to face conference foes Michigan and Michigan State. The Illini will stop in Ann Arbor on Saturday, April 6, at 11:00 a.m. CT, to face the Wolverines, and conclude the road trip in East Lansing on Sunday, April 7, at 11:00 a.m. CT, with a matchup against the Spartans.
The Illini will look to bounce back from their first conference loss, as Illinois fell to Minnesota 4-3 last Sunday. Despite the loss, the Illini did claim two victories in a double header last Friday, beating Wisconsin-Eau Claire 66-10 before defeating Wisconsin 6-1. Thus, the Orange and Blue jump to 11-7 overall and 4-1 in Big Ten play.
The Illini are 34-61-3 all time against Michigan and enjoy a 53-28 series advantage against the Spartans. Head coach Brad Dancer has a strong record against both squads. Now in his eighth season, Dancer is 7-0 against the Spartans while only dropping three matches to the Wolverines. Interesting to note, Dancer's Illini are just 4-3 during the regular season against the Wolverines, but has defeated Michigan five times in postseason play. Last season Illinois lost to Michigan 4-3 and defeated Michigan State 6-1.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENT
Michigan is off to a 9-7 start, with a 4-1 conference record. All but two of Michigan's seven losses has come against a top 25 nationally ranked team, experiencing a February stretch of five straight losses. However, Michigan has bounced back, winning five of their past six, including conference wins against Wisconsin, Purdue and Indiana.
In singles play, Michigan's Evan King leads the Wolverines with a 15-1 record. King currently ranks 15th in singles and has won his last four matches. Barrett Franks has the next best record at 13-2. Franks has won at least two matches in slots three through six.
In doubles, Michigan is 11-2 in the number one slot overall and 4-1 in conference play. Evan King and Shaun Bernstein sport a 7-2 record, while King and Alex Buzzi are 4-0 overall and 3-0 in Big Ten action.
Michigan State currently has a 8-10 record with a 2-3 Big Ten mark. The Spartans will square off with Northwestern on Saturday before clashing with the Illini on Sunday. MSU has lost four of their last six, but are fresh off a 6-1 victory at Purdue.
Aaron Pfister is expected to play in the number one singles position as he possesses a 8-9 record in the spot. Drew Lied has played mostly in the two spot where he is 7-9. Another notable record is John Patrick Mullane's 8-3 mark in the number four slot.
In addition, Mullane and Lied have made a formidable doubles pair as they are off to a 3-1 start in conference competition and 6-1 overall. Furthermore, Pfister and Denis Bogatov are 2-0 in Big Ten play.
The March 26th singles and doubles rankings carry over to this week as Freshman Jared Hiltzik remains at #42 in singles. Lastly, the doubles team of sophomores Tim Kopinski and Ross Guignon stay in the #22 position.
The Fighting Illini are off to yet another great start to Big Ten play, accumulating a 4-1 mark heading into this weekend's matches. In fact, the Orange and Blue have amassed two 7-0 shutouts in that span as well. The 4-1 conference record has landed the Illini in a three-way tie for second place with Michigan and Minnesota while Ohio State holds the top spot at 5-0.
A PEEK AHEAD
The Fighting Illini return home to Champaign-Urbana next week for a couple of Big Ten matches. First up is a big showdown with #5 Ohio State on Friday, April 12, at 3 p.m. CT. Two days later, the Illini welcome Penn State at 12 p.m. CT.