Junior Marc Spicijaric
May 15, 2008
In the seventh edition of "On the Marc", junior Marc Spicijaric recaps the Big Ten Tournament, the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament and the teams trip to the Sweet 16 in Tulsa, Okla.
Hey Illini Fans!
Marc "Mr. Clutch" Spicijaric here. Wow, it's been a whirlwind couple of weeks. I know it's been awhile since my last post, but hopefully this one will get you updated on our recent events.
At the Big Ten Tournament, we once again made our way to the title match and for the fifth straight year, our rival Ohio State was there to greet us. We fought hard, but ended up on the losing end of a 4-3 heartbreaker. It was a really tough match and were all upset after the match but we in the end we realized how close we were to beating them and were itching for another match up with them in Tulsa. We didn't spend much time thinking about that because we knew we needed to turn our attention and focus on NCAA's. Tournament pairings were announced and for the ninth time in the last 10 years, we were selected to host. It's so nice to stay in the friendly confines of the Atkins Tennis Center with the home crowd, and an added bonus of getting to sleep in my own bed!
In the first round of the NCAA Tournament we faced Xavier. While many of us did not know too much about the team, we knew that we just needed to go out and take care of business. With the threat of rain looming around us, we swiftly took the doubles point in about half an hour. After that, we never looked back, taking a 4-0 victory to advance to the second round. On this match we were all about business and everyone came out and did what they needed to do. I personally had a great day where for the second time this year someone on the team did not lose a game the whole day. Brandon won 8-0 in doubles and 6-0 6-0 in singles against Rice earlier in the year and I pulled this off against Xavier.
The next day we faced the LSU Tigers in the second round. I'll admit we came out a little sluggish in doubles and ended up losing the point. This wasn't because we played awful they just came out fired up and got the better of us. However, for the first time all season we rebounded with a victory after losing the doubles point, which says a lot about our team and the fight we have in us. This gave us a lot of confidence showing that we can come back after losing the doubles point and it was a little like last years regional match against Michigan. It was great to see Billy close out a tough match the way he did and same with Ruben.
Because we were only one of two regionals competing in the Friday-Saturday format, we had to wait till Sunday to find out who would be our opponent in the Sweet 16. Wouldn't you know, it would be our rival Ohio State. We are all hungry for success and are looking to make our own magical run this year in the NCAA Tournament. As a team, we are focusing on one match at a time. We look back at last year but we realize that this is a different team and we need to write our own chapter this season and want to make this a special end to the year.
We arrived in Tulsa on Tuesday and went straight to the courts. Thanks to former Illini Chris Martin, we were able to hit at the prestigious Southern Hills Country Club. It was nice to get outdoors and adjust to the warmer temperatures. Yesterday, we hit the University of Tulsa campus and practiced in the morning at the Harlow Courts then had some time to relax before heading back to campus.
Yesterday afternoon was our one and only chance to practice at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center where the 2008 NCAA Championships will be held. Luckily, the rain that was forecasted held off and we got acclimated to what the courts will be like for our match on Friday against the Buckeyes. We hope to get the better of them this time around.
Well, it's time to go to practice. Stay tuned and follow us throughout the tournament here at fightingillini.com or tulsahurricane.com.
Until next time,