The No. 16 Illini will host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament, May 11-12 at Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex.
May 10, 2012
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Fighting Illini men's tennis team (17-7) was selected to host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Championships for the 13th time in 14 years, May 11-12, at Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex in Urbana. No. 17 Auburn (17-9) and Drake (24-2) will square off in the first match of the day at Noon on Friday, May 11, followed by a clash between Illinois (16-10) and Western Michigan (17-11) at 3 p.m. The second-round match is slated for Saturday, May 12 at 2 p.m. The Illini will be making their 17th straight NCAA Championship appearance and have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen 11 times in the past 13 years.
First- and second-round competition will take place May 11-13 at 16 different regional sites with the winner of each site advancing to the NCAA Division I Tennis Championships, May 17-22, at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga.
TICKET & PARKING INFORMATION
Admission each day will be $5 for adults and $3 for students. Children two and under are free. Tickets for the first and second rounds can be purchased at 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. Free parking is available east of Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex off of Goodwin Ave. Spectators can enter Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex from this lot.
HISTORY OF EXCELLENCE
The Illini are 12-1 in the first round when hosting the regional, with the only loss coming to Northwestern in 1997. Overall, the Orange and Blue are 13-3 in the first round, with the three losses coming in the first three years the team earned berths into the NCAA Championships from 1996-98. Since the tournament opened to a 64-team field in 1999, the Illini have advanced to the second round each year, compiling a perfect 13-0 record.
2011 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS RECAP
The Illini downed Drake, 4-0, and North Carolina, 4-1, to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Championships for the ninth time in 10 years. There, the Orange and Blue squared off with top-seeded Virginia, falling 4-0 to end their run in the 2011 tournament.
2012 BIG TEN TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONS
The third-seeded Fighting Illini men's tennis team (17-7) captured its first Big Ten Tournament title since 2005 in a dramatic 4-3 comeback over top-seeded and third-ranked Ohio State (31-3) April 29 at Northwestern's Vandy Christie Tennis Center. Illinois' victory snapped the Buckeyes' 92-match winning streak against teams in the Big Ten and ended OSU's six-year reign as tournament champions.
The Illini dropped the doubles point for the first time in four matches, falling on courts two and three before suffering a straight-set loss at No. 1 singles to give the Buckeyes a 2-0 advantage. Freshman Tim Kopinski stormed back with a convincing 6-3, 6-1 victory over #115 Ille Van Engelen on court four, but Illinois fell at the No. 3 position in the next completed match to put Ohio State one win away from its seventh straight Big Ten tournament title.
Junior Stephen Hoh was unfazed, however, winning a 6-4, 0-6, 6-1 decision over No. 85 Devin McCarthy at the No. 5 spot. Freshman Ross Guignon followed with a 7-6, 6-4 win over #105 Connor Smith to even the contest at 3-3.
In the final remaining match of the day, No. 41 Roy Kalmanovich maintained his composure after a second-set loss, finishing out a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 thriller over No. 6 Blaz Rola to clinch Illinois' first tournament crown in seven years.
The win marked the Orange and Blue's first victory over Ohio State since 2007. The Illini now boast a 57-39-1 lead in the all-time series and join No. 1 USC and No. 2 Georgia as the only teams to beat the Buckeyes this season. OSU has won 48 of its last 52 contests overall and is now 22-3 against teams in the top 75.
NEVOLO, KALMANOVICH SELECTED FOR NCAA SINGLES, DOUBLES CHAMPIONSHIPS
Senior Dennis Nevolo was selected by the NCAA Division I Men's Tennis Subcommittee to compete in the 2012 NCAA Men's Singles Championships for the fourth straight year, while fellow senior Roy Kalmanovich was chosen for the second time in his career. Both Illini earned one of 48 at-large bids into the 64-player bracket in which Nevolo is seeded seventh. Additionally, the pair earned one of 21 at-large bids into the 32-team doubles field.
Nevolo advanced to the Sweet 16 to earn All-America honors last year and has reached the round of 32 in each of his previous three NCAA singles appearances. The Gurnee, Ill., native has played in the doubles championships twice in his career, reaching the quarterfinals alongside former Illini Marek Czerwinski in 2010 and dropping the opening-round match with Ruan Roelofse in 2009. Kalmanovich advanced to the round of 32 in the singles championships in 2009.
The selections mark the 16th straight year that at least one Illini will compete on the national stage and the 23rd time overall. Amer Delic captured the program's only NCAA singles title in 2003. Illinois has won three national doubles titles (2000, 2003, 2006) and is the only Big Ten school with an NCAA doubles title. The Illini have advanced to at least the quarterfinals of the doubles championship seven times since 2000.
ILLINI IN THE RANKINGS
Senior Dennis Nevolo checked in at No. 7 in the latest national singles rankings, while classmate Roy Kalmanovich was ranked 31st. Together, the pair checked in at No. 21 in doubles.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
The Broncos earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament for the ninth time in program history. The squad is 17-11 overall after recently winning its ninth straight Mid-American Conference Tournament title, marking the 11th time it has won either the conference regular season or tournament in the past 16 seasons. Nadin Indre garnered MAC Player of the Year honors, while he, Ross VanderPloeg and Zeyad Montasser were All-MAC selections. Western Michigan and Illinois have squared off 13 times with the Illini leading the all-time series, 11-2.
The No. 17 Tigers are 17-9 and will make their 13th straight NCAA Tournament appearance and 20th overall. Auburn has earned a bid in 18 of the past 22 seasons. Alex Stamchev and Andreas Mies were first-team All-SEC honorees, and Stamchev broke two school records this season, including all-time doubles wins and all-time combined wins. Mies checked in at No. 18 in the national rankings, followed by Stamchev at No. 68. Together, they are ranked ninth in doubles.
The Bulldogs checked in at No. 48 and will make their sixth-ever NCAA Championships appearance and fifth in their last seven campaigns. This year marks the fourth straight time Drake will play in the Urbana regional, as the squad will look for its first-ever NCAA Tournament victory. Drake matched its single-season win total this year, boasting a 24-2 mark, including an 11-0 stretch heading into tournament play. Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year Anis Ghorbel leads the team with a 49-10 combined record. The Bulldogs have five players with 20-plus singles wins and six players who have reached the 20-win mark in doubles.
NEVOLO, KALMANOVICH EARN FIRST-TEAM ALL-BIG TEN HONORS
Fighting Illini seniors Dennis Nevolo and Roy Kalmanovich garnered first-team All-Big Ten recognition, the conference office announced at the 2012 Big Ten Tournament Awards Banquet. Nevolo earned the honor for the fourth straight year and was a unanimous selection for the second consecutive season, while Kalmanovich made his first-ever appearance on the list. The Illini have secured at least two All-Big Ten honorees for the past 16 years and at least one for the past 23 seasons.
Nevolo went 9-2 in conference play this year, playing primarily at the No. 1 spot. Going into the Big Ten Tournament, he led the team in dual (15-5) and overall (28-7) victories, securing his fourth straight 20-win season while matching a career-high 13 wins over nationally ranked opponents. The Gurnee, Ill., native has been ranked all year, reaching as high as No. 2 in singles and No. 20 in doubles alongside Kalmanovich.
Kalmanovich went 7-4 in the Big Ten, competing primarily on court two. The Framingham, Mass., native ranked second on the team heading into the tournament with 24 wins and has been a mainstay in the national rankings, reaching a career-high No. 21 in singles on Feb. 28.
Junior Bruno Abdelnour was Illinois' Sportsmanship Award honoree, given to individuals who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship, ethical behavior and strong academic performance and who have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting.
19TH ANNUAL ADVANTAGE ILLINOIS AWARDS BANQUET
The Illinois men's and women's tennis teams honored the season's accomplishments at the 19th annual Advantage Illinois Tennis Awards Banquet on April 30 at the I-Hotel. Awards were voted on by players, coaches and support staff associated with the teams. Senior Dennis Nevolo was named Advantage Illinois Most Valuable Player, while junior Bruno Abdelnour took home the Scholar-Athlete Award for the second year in a row and also earned the Chris Martin Fighting Illini Spirit Award. Freshman Tim Kopinski was tabbed both Player to Watch and Most Improved, and junior Stephen Hoh garnered the Strength and Conditioning award.