Tennis bounces on despite recent loss



By ME Online

One of the great things about college tennis is that since its matches are scheduled so close together, teams are forced to forget about past results and worry about the upcoming opponents. For the Illini, this week’s schedule allows the team to move on from a tough 5-2 loss to a well-prepared No. 35 Wisconsin team on Sunday. To help put the loss to the Badgers behind them, the No. 17 Illini (10-6) will face non-conference foe No. 37 Kentucky (10-10) on Wednesday.

“The guys are really disappointed because this is not at all where we want to be, but you can’t dwell on (the Wisconsin match),” head coach Brad Dancer said. “You can instead let it motivate you in your preparation.”

Led by No. 19 Bruno Agostinelli and freshman Alberto Gonzalez, Kentucky has been hot lately.

In their last five matches, the Wildcats lost to No. 7 Mississippi, but topped No. 49 Mississippi State, No. 26 Auburn and No. 34 Notre Dame. Agostinelli is 10-6 on the season, upsetting Mississippi’s No. 14 Matthias Wellermann 7-5, 6-2. The junior has won his last six matches to pace the Wildcats.

Meanwhile, Illinois has had a roller coaster few weeks. The Illini defeated then-No.12 Notre Dame and No. 33 TCU but lost to No. 13 Pepperdine and Wisconsin.

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Throughout the season, doubles play has been a challenge for the Orange and Blue. Much of the difficulty has come at No. 3 doubles – a spot where Dancer has rotated players a few times this season.

Through the duration of the trouble at No. 3 doubles, sophomore Billy Heiser and senior Ryan Rowe have had steady play.

The No. 22-ranked duo has won six straight matches and made it through March without a loss.

In addition to its doubles play, Illinois also had trouble in singles against the Badgers last weekend. Rowe and junior Marc Spicijaric were the only Illini to secure singles victories.

“We put ourselves in the hole at No. 3 doubles and we could never recover (against Wisconsin),” Dancer said. “We gave up way too easy points in singles with Heiser and Davis.”

Despite the disappointing match against Wisconsin, the Illini must continue to focus on one match at a time.

“At the end of the day, if you continue to harp on the losses then you begin to create a losing attitude,” Dancer said. “We need to continue to have a winning mindset in this program.”