Men's Tennis
#11 Illinois Ready for Last Regular Season Road Trip

 
Jared Hiltzik got back on track last week with three consecutive wins in singles.
Jared Hiltzik got back on track last week with three consecutive wins in singles.
 

April 9, 2014

THE WEEKEND AHEAD

The No. 11 Fighting Illini men's tennis team will look to build upon its three match win streak this weekend when they depart for their final regular season Big Ten road trip. Illinois will travel to Iowa City on Friday, April 11, to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes at 3 p.m. CT. Then the Orange and Blue will go to Lincoln on Sunday, April 13, to battle the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Noon CT. 

FOR STARTERS

Farris Gosea is having a career junior season. Gosea has won his last six matches against ranked foes, including a 9-1 overall mark against ranked opponents this spring. His only loss against a ranked singles competitor came on Feb. 14 to No. 4 Axel Alvarez Llamas of Oklahoma. Just last week, Gosea defeated No. 8 Peter Kobelt of Ohio State and No. 11 Tom Jomby of Kentucky. 

Tim Kopinski is also compiling a stellar season as well. The junior has won seven straight matches, which is the longest streak on the team. His last loss occurred to Baylor's Patrick Pradella on March 16. 

Both Gosea and Kopinski are tied for the most dual match victories with 17. Furthermore, both are undefeated in conference play, with Kopinski at five wins and Gosea at six. 

DOUBLES

The Illini's doubles play has been and up and down journey all spring. After losing six straight doubles decisions in late January/early February, Illinois rebounded by claiming eight of the next 10 doubles points. Keeping with the roller coaster theme, last week, the Orange and Blue lost doubles Kentucky and Michigan but defeated Michigan State in that aspect. 

The fifth ranked doubles team of Kopinski and Guignon are 12-4 in dual matches and 4-1 in Big Ten play. After winning nine consecutive doubles matches, Kopinski/Guignon have hit a bump in the road and have dropped two of their last three.  

BIG TEN STANDINGS

Illinois currently sits in fourth place in the conference standings with a 5-2 record. The Illini's only two losses came at the hands of Ohio State and the overturned Penn State result. No. 1 Ohio State is undefeated in the Big Ten at 8-0. The Buckeyes are followed by Penn State (6-1) in second and Purdue (5-1) in third. 

SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS

Iowa

Iowa is 9-9 overall and just 1-5 in the Big Ten, with their lone win coming against Minnesota. The Hawkeyes are in a bit of a downfall as they are on a six match losing streak. Iowa possesses no ranked singles or doubles players. 

Nebraska

Nebraska is 10-10 overall and 2-4 in conference play. In addition, the Cornhuskers have dropped four of their last five matches. Nebraska has no ranked singles or doubles players either. 

All-Time Series

The Illini are 68-23 all-time against the Hawkeyes. Illinois has won 18 straight matches against Iowa, last suffering a loss to them in 1996. Meanwhile, the all-time series against Nebraska just recently started when the Cornhuskers joined the Big Ten conference. Illinois has won both contests in the previous two seasons, by the scores of 6-1 and 7-0.

ILLINI IN THE RANKINGS

The April 18 poll kept the Fighting Illini locked in at No. 11. Illinois is the second highest ranked Big Ten school, only behind Ohio State's No. 1 ranking. 

Jared Hiltzik climbed one spot to No. 8 in the nation in singles after finding his groove last week with three straight wins. Farris Gosea achieved a career high ranking of 11th while Tim Kopinski slid three spots to No. 45. 

In doubles, Kopinski and Ross Guignon dropped two spots from their career high ranking down to No. 5. Lastly, Alex Jesse and Jared Hiltzik are ranked 72nd. 

FOUR IS MORE

Whether it is a coincidence or a key statistic, the No. 4 singles position has proven a vital role for the Illini this spring. Three different Illini have played at No. 4 singles, accumulating a 10-11 record. However, when victory is achieved at the No. 4 spot, Illinois is undefeated at 10-0. 

A LOOK AHEAD

After this weekend, the Orange and Blue return to Urbana for one final home stand. Illinois will welcome Minnesota on April 18  at 3 p.m. CT and Wisconsin on April 20 at Noon CT. The week after that, the Illini head to the Big Ten Championships. 

HEADLINES