#10 Illinois To Wrap Regular Season This Weekend
April 16, 2014
THE WEEKEND AHEAD
The 10th-ranked Fighting Illini men's tennis team will wrap one of its most successful regular seasons in recent years this weekend at home when they host Minnesota and Wisconsin. Illinois will take on the Gophers at 3 p.m. CT on Friday and then close it out against the Badgers at Noon on Sunday.
Sophomore Jared Hiltzik has settled back into the No. 1 singles position. The Wilmette, Ill., native has now won five straight, boasting a 11-5 dual match record.
However, Farris Gosea possesses the longest winning streak on the team, currently at eight. The junior is undefeated in conference play at 9-0 and has produced the most dual match victories on the team with a 19-3 record.
Tim Kopinski suffered a loss to Nebraska's Tom Blackwell last weekend, but that doesn't take away the fact that junior is 7-1 in Big Ten play. Kopinski is 8-2 in his last 10 matches and has compiled an 18-5 dual match record.
Blake Bazarnik has also come on strong at the end of the regular season. The junior has won four straight and is 7-1 in the No. 4 singles position.
BIG TEN STANDINGS
Ohio State clinched at least a share of the Big Ten Men's Tennis Championship last Sunday after earning a 4-3 win at Purdue. The Buckeyes are 9-0 in conference play and have a chance to clinch the title outright with a win over Iowa on Friday. Purdue and Illinois are tied for second with a 7-2 Big Ten record, however the Illini hold the advantage after downing the Boilermakers earlier in the season. Lastly, Penn State remains in hot pursuit in fourth with a 6-3 mark.
The Illini have claimed the doubles point in 12 of their 25 matches this spring. Last weekend was a successful venture in this aspect of the match as Illinois took doubles against both Iowa and Nebraska on the road.
The fourth ranked doubles team of Kopinski and Guignon are 14-4 in dual matches and 7-1 in Big Ten play. Kopinski/Guignon are 4-2 against top-25 ranked doubles teams. In addition, Alex Jesse and Jared Hiltzik partnered together last weekend and picked up a couple of wins at No. 2 doubles.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
Minnesota is 11-10 overall and 5-4 in conference play. Furthermore, the Gophers have only achieved two victories on the road this season. After dropping five of eight over the last month, the Gophers rebounded with wins at home vs. Michigan and Michigan State last weekend.
Minnesota's ranked singles player is No. 39 Leandro Toledo, who is 17-4 in dual matches. Toledo is 8-1 in Big Ten play and has won six straight. Meanwhile, Mathieu Froment and Jack Hamburg are ranked 20th in doubles, thanks to a 12-1 record this spring. The duo have won 12 consecutive matches.
Wisconsin is 9-13 overall and just 1-8 in Big Ten play. The Badgers have struggled on the road where they have yet to achieve victory, currently 0-7. In addition, Wisconsin is in the midst of a downward spiral, losing six straight and nine of their last ten.
Wisconsin's lone ranked singles competitor is No. 118 Oskar Wikberg, who is 11-7 this spring. Wikberg is 1-3 against nationally ranked competitors and 5-5 in his previous ten matches.
The Illini are 38-32 all-time against Minnesota. The Orange and Blue will look to avenge last season's 4-3 loss at Minneapolis. The last five years have played host to a back and forth battle, with the Illini earning three wins out of five chances.
Illinois has found better historical success against Wisconsin, where they hold a 54-29 advantage against the Big Ten foe. The Illini have taken eight of the last ten matches against the Badgers, including the past three seasons.
HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
The Atkins Tennis Center/Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex have provided quite the home court advantage for the Illini this spring. The Orange and Blue are undefeated at home in 2014, boasting a 9-0 mark. They defeated ranked foes that include No. 16 Notre Dame, No. 8 Texas A&M and No. 10 Texas, and those who were previously ranked as well, such as Pepperdine and Michigan.
ILLINI IN THE RANKINGS
The Fighting Illini moved up one spot to No. 10 in the April 15 ITA national team rankings. Illinois is still the second highest ranked Big Ten school, only behind No. 1 Ohio State. Jared Hiltzik's No. 8 national singles ranking remained the same this week. Farris Gosea dropped two spots to No. 13 despite picking up two more singles victories last weekend. Lastly, Tim Kopinski slid seven spots to No. 52 after losing his first conference match. In doubles, Kopinski and Ross Guignon moved a little bit closer to their career high ranking when they checked in this week at No. 4. They are currently the only ranked Illini doubles team.
A LOOK AHEAD
At the conclusion of Sunday's matches, the Big Ten conference will announce the seedings for the Big Ten Men's Tennis Tournament that will get underway the following weekend.