Looking to relieve stress? Go watch the Illini

Stress is common on a college campus. I’m stressed, you’re stressed and even your teachers are stressed. Everybody deals with stress differently, but the best way I can think of to take your mind off your studies is to head out to an Illini sporting event — and I don’t just mean men’s basketball and football.

The Illinois men’s and women’s tennis seasons are starting back up again, and if you’ve never been to a college tennis match, I strongly encourage you to go. These aren’t typical tennis matches where you have to whisper like you’re at Wimbledon. Illini tennis matches are loud and in-your-face.

This past weekend, the men’s team played then-No. 11 Duke and then-No. 6 North Carolina on back-to-back nights, and they were some of the most intense sporting experiences I have ever been a part of. Six singles matches going all at once guarantee non-stop action, and the constant “ILL-INI” chants add to the already energized Atkins Tennis Center. The Net Nuts student section also takes the atmosphere up a notch, full of students doing their best to get under the opposing team’s skin. The matches truly are spectacular, and there is no way to fully describe them to someone who has never been. Experience it for yourself Friday as the Illini compete against Kentucky.

Head coach Matt Bollant’s Illini women’s basketball team is one of the more under-recognized programs at Illinois, but there is no reason this should be the case. The team already surpassed its win total from last season, and Bollant is making the program relevant again.

The Illini women have hit a rough patch recently with an injury to senior standout Ivory Crawford, and they need our support now more than ever. Walk on over to State Farm Center on Thursday night and join the Blue Crew student section to cheer on the Illini.

Gymnastics is another exciting sport to clear your mind. Not only is it entertaining, but both the men’s and women’s teams are among the best in the nation. The men’s team is ranked No. 4, while the women come in at No. 14 in the nation. The sheer athleticism of these student-athletes warrants a visit to a meet. Both teams are in action Saturday, and are worth checking out.

Another powerhouse program on campus is Illini wrestling. Currently ranked fourth in the nation, Illinois is looking to catch up with Iowa and Minnesota in the Big Ten standings. Many people may not be familiar with the sport, but once you attend a match you will catch on quickly. The team takes on Wisconsin on Sunday at Huff Hall.

I know many college kids are living on a tight budget, but the best part about all the sporting events I just mentioned is that they are all free for students.

The next time you’re stressed out or simply have some free time, stop and think. Instead of procrastinating by watching Netflix or sleeping, grab some friends, throw on some orange and go cheer on one of your Illini sports teams.

Will is a freshman in DGS. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @will_small_.