Michigan, Penn State fall at hands of Illini men



By Alex Iniguez

One 5-2 win against a conference opponent is good. Two? That’s even better.

The No. 17 Illini (13-6, 5-1 Big Ten) notched a pair of decisive Big Ten victories at home this weekend with the defeat of No. 43 Penn State (10-9, 3-3) on Saturday and an upset of No. 14 Michigan (16-3, 7-1) on Sunday.

“We lost to Wisconsin a week ago,” senior Ryan Rowe said. “So it was good to come out and get a couple Big Ten victories, especially over Michigan, who we lost to once last year and are ranked in front of us right now.

We want to prove that we are still the best team in the Big Ten even though we might’ve had a slip-up.”


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Men take down Michigan, Penn State

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Against Michigan, the Illini started fast and never looked back.

Ruben Gonzales and Marc Spicijaric defeated No. 34 Matko Maravic and George Navas, 8-4, to begin the afternoon. Soon after, No. 29 Billy Heiser and Ryan Rowe topped No. 14 Mike Srocynski and Jason Jung by the same score to secure the doubles point for Illinois.

“(Heiser and Rowe) really stunk it up (Saturday), so it was a good rebound for them,” head coach Brad Dancer said. “They responded really well, stepped up to the plate and led the charge against a very good Jung and Srocynski team.”

In singles play, Illinois was guided by strong play at the top of the lineup against the Wolverines.

Spicijaric defeated Srocynski, 6-3, 6-2, to score the second point for Illinois, and No. 12 Rowe followed suit with a 6-2, 6-4 victory against No. 52 Maravic.

Waylon Chin held off Peter Aarts to secure the match victory for the Illini, while No. 90 Gonzales won a tough battle with Jung, 7-5, 6-1.

“I didn’t have a really good match (Saturday), but I came out (against Michigan) and stayed focused,” Spicijaric said. “I had some different thoughts going through my head and just gained some confidence from the win.”

The team’s play against Michigan mirrored its match on Saturday against Penn State.

The Illini dropped one doubles match and were led by the top of the lineup once again. Gonzales and Spicijaric raced out to an 8-2 victory, while Chin and senior Brandon Davis took more time in their 8-6 win to seize the doubles point.

Gonzales and No. 94 Heiser each won in straight sets and Chin once again sealed the match for the Illini with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 defeat of James Dwyer.

“It was a good match, Penn State’s a good team and I’m happy to get another conference win,” Dancer said. “I’m pleased with the way that we got through that.”

Illinois will take to the courts again on Saturday, when it hosts No. 2 Ohio State.

The Buckeyes’ only loss came to No. 1 Virginia at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Team Indoor Championships.

“I expect a fight,” Rowe said. “It’s always a good match against Ohio State, and it’s a big match that we’ve been looking forward to all year long.”