Illini Begin NCAA Tournament Run at Home
May 6, 2014
URBANA REGIONAL PREVIEW
The Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex in Urbana will once again play host to NCAA postseason tennis. The Fighting Illini men's tennis squad will host the first and second rounds May 9-10 after being chosen as the No. 12 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. On Friday, Memphis will battle Drake at 1 p.m. CT, followed by the Illini's first round matchup vs. Ball State at 4 p.m. The winners of each match will then square off on Saturday at 3 p.m. for the right to travel to Athens, Ga. for the NCAA Championships.
TICKET AND PARKING INFO
Ticket prices for the First and Second rounds will be $5 for adults and $3 for students and can be purchased at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex starting one hour prior to the first match each day. One ticket is valid for one admission to all matches on the day the ticket is purchased.
Spectator parking is available east of the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex off of Goodwin Ave where fans can then enter the complex from this lot.
Since the tournament opened to a 64-team field in 1999, the Illini have advanced to the second round each year, compiling a perfect 15-0 record. In the second round, the Orange and Blue are an impressive 12-3. Thus, Illini head coach Brad Dancer has reached the Round of 16 at the NCAA Championships six-out-of-eight times since taking over in the 2005-06 season.
Overall, the Illini are 39-17 all-time in the NCAA Tournament as they will be appearing in the tournament for the 19th straight year. Illinois won its lone national championship in 2003 and was national runner-up in 2007.
Expect to see Jared Hiltzik in the No. 1 singles position. The sophomore enters the postseason with a nine match winning streak and is fresh off of defeating No. 7 Peter Kobelt of Ohio State in straight sets. Hiltzik is 15-5 in dual matches this spring. Farris Gosea will hold the fort down in No. 2 singles. The Cardiff, Whales native leads the team with a 23-3 record and a 12-match win streak. Gosea has not lost since March 17, and has conquered seven consecutive ranked foes, 10-1 overall.
Tim Kopinski ended the regular season with a 13-2 stretch and played a pivotal role in the Illini's tremendous success they've had at the top half of their lineup this year. In fact, Illinois is a combined 65-14 in the top three singles positions, good for a .823 winning percentage.
Meanwhile teammate Blake Bazarnik has turned his game around in April, accumulating a 7-2 mark last month. Both Kopinski and Bazarnik are tied for the second most wins with identical 19-6 dual match records. In addition, it's important to not overlook the No. 4 singles position as well. Whenever an Illini wins at No. 4, the Orange and Blue are 13-0.
Finally, ever since he was inserted into the lineup on April 11, sophomore Alex Jesse has posted a 5-1 record, playing in both the No. 5 & 6 singles positions.
HILTZIK & GOSEA SINGLES BOUND // KOPINSKI & GUIGNON SELECTED FOR DOUBLES
Sophomore Jared Hiltzik and junior Farris Gosea were selected to compete in the NCAA Singles Tournament while the team of Tim Kopinski and Ross Guignon received an invite to the doubles championships. In addition, Hiltzik, Kopinski and Guignon all received All-American honors for the first time in their careers after earning a ranked seed in their respective tournaments. Hiltzik earned the No. 8 overall singles seed while Kopinski/Guignon were tabbed with the 5-8 seed.
The singles and doubles competition will occur May 21-26 at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., following the conclusion of the team championships. All matches shall be best-of-three sets. Regular scoring and a 12-point tiebreaker at six games-all will be used for all matches.
BIG TEN ACCOLADES
Farris Gosea, Jared Hiltzik and Tim Kopinski were all named First-Team All-Big Ten selections this season, marking the first time since 2009 that the Orange and Blue produced three honorees. More impressively, Gosea was awarded Big Ten Tennis Athlete of the Year, marking the sixth time an Illinois player claimed the prestigious award and the first since Kevin Anderson in 2007.
When it came to Big Ten Tennis Athlete of the Week awards, Illinois tied Ohio State for the most weekly honors with four apiece. Hiltzik earned his fourth career weekly award on Jan. 21 for his play at the Illini Open. On Feb. 11, Kopinski got the nod after playing a huge role in the Illini's three straight upsets over No. 16 Notre Dame, No. 8 Texas A&M and No. 10 Texas. Finally, Gosea kicked off March with back-to-back weekly wins. Thus, for the first time since 2009, three different Illini have been named Big Ten Tennis Athlete of the Week in the same season.
2014 BIG TEN TOURNAMENT RECAP
The Fighting Illini advanced to its seventh Big Ten Tournament title match in Dancer's nine years at the helm after cruising past Indiana and Michigan in the quarters and semis. Illinois then met top-seed Ohio State in the championship, which marked the 11th straight year the two squads met in the tournament. However, it was the Buckeyes that emerged with a 4-2 victory. No. 8 Jared Hiltzik and No. 17 Farris Gosea delivered the Illini's two points from the top-two spots in singles. Both picked up wins over ranked opponents, including Hiltzik's straight set victory over No. 7 Peter Kobelt.
The Illini possess all the momentum in the all-time series against Ball State. The Orange and Blue lead the series 19-8, but more importantly, have won 18 straight matches against the Cardinals. Despite a 28-year history, the two teams have yet to compete against each other in postseason play.
This season, the two teams battled on a neutral court in Indianapolis on March 23, where Illinois shutout Ball State 4-0. Tim Kopinski, Blake Bazarnik and Julian Childers all picked up straight set victories in singles, as the trio combined in just allowing 12 total games against them.
Lucas Andersen leads the Cardinals in dual match victories with a 17-4 record. The freshman boasts the longest winning streak on the team at 12 straight matches. Patrick Elliot holds the second most wins at 15-6. The junior is 12-5 in his primary spot, No. 2 singles. In doubles, Elliot and Andrew Stutz are the only BSU pairing with double digit wins with a 14-4 mark.
Traveling to Urbana for the start of the NCAA Tournament is nothing new to Drake. This weekend marks the squad's fifth trip to the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex in Drake's last six tournament appearances. All-together, the Bulldogs will be making its eighth NCAA Tournament appearance. The Bulldogs are 22-5 overall on the year.
Alan Salibasic is the only ranked singles player at No. 68. The junior has played in the No. 1 position for Drake where he has accumulated a 16-6 record. The duo of Robin Goodman and Ravi Patel sit at No. 47 in the doubles rankings while when Goodman teams with Ben Lott, they rank 88th.
DRAKE VS MEMPHIS
At 1 p.m. CT Friday in first round action, Drake will square off against Memphis for the second time this season. The Bulldogs defeated the Tigers in a come-from-behind 4-3 victory on March 21 on a neutral court in San Diego that came down to a tiebreak at No. 3 singles.
Memphis returns to Urbana for the second straight year after qualifying for the Round of 16 a year ago and makes their third consecutive NCAA appearance. The 22nd ranked Tigers enter this weekend with a 14-5 overall record.
Connor Glennon is the lone ranked singles player, checking in at No. 65. Glennon is 11-6 in dual matches and 4-4 in his last 10 matches. Joe Salisbury possesses the most dual victories on the team with a 13-5 mark. Salisbury and David O'Hare are ranked 13th in the country in doubles and are 10-3.
The Orange and Blue are surging into the NCAA Tournament winners of nine of the last 10 matches. During this impressive stretch, Illinois outscored its opponents 43-13. In fact, Ohio State is the only team since the start of April to even score more than two points against the Illini.
The Illini have claimed the doubles point in 15 of its 27 matches this spring. Illinois is 13-2 when they win doubles and 7-5 when they drop the early 1-0 advantage.
The fifth ranked doubles team of Kopinski and Guignon became the first doubles All-Americans since Kevin Anderson and Ryan Rowe in 2007. The duo are 15-5 in dual matches and went 8-1 in Big Ten play. They are 7-3 in their last ten and went 5-2 against top-30 ranked doubles teams.
ILLINI IN THE RANKINGS
Illinois was awarded the No. 12 overall seed of the NCAA Tournament when they maintained said ranking after the conclusion of the conference tournaments. The Illini started the year ranked No. 22 before peaking at No. 6 on March 4.
Jared Hiltzik remains deadlocked at No. 8 in singles, earning the eighth overall seed in the NCAA Singles tournament. Not too far off is Farris Gosea, who checks in at No. 18, missing the All-American cut by two spots. Lastly, Tim Kopinski rounds out the ranked singles competitors at No. 63. In doubles, Kopinski and Ross Guignon stayed at the No. 5 spot this week, while Gosea and Alex Jesse climbed nearly 30 spots to No. 63.