Nevolo, Kalmanovich earn entries to USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships

Taking on six ranked opponents in six days can be intimidating, but senior Roy Kalmanovich had some simple advice.

“Smile and laugh at myself,” Kalmanovich said. “Rather than getting really angry and down on myself.”

The Illinois men’s tennis team was the only team at the ITA All-American Championship with two competitors in the quarterfinals this weekend. However, seniors Dennis Nevolo and Kalmanovich both fell in their matches.

Friday, Nevolo and Kalmanovich advanced to the quarterfinals with early wins. No. 7 Nevolo defeated Guillermo Alcorta of Oklahoma and No. 71 Kalmanovich defeated No. 9 Jose Hernandez of North Carolina.

Junior Stephen Hoh fell to No. 62 Andre Dome of Cal Poly. Hoh has battled three ranked opponents his last three matches.

Saturday saw the remaining eight players in the tournament begin the quarterfinals matches. Kalmanovich was the only Illini left who played in the qualifying matches earlier this week and made it to the main draw. He fell in a three-set match against No. 17 Costin Paval of Oklahoma, 2-6, 7-6, 7-5. Paval was Kalmanovich’s sixth ranked opponent in six days.

Nevolo took on the top-ranked freshman, Mitchell Frank of Virginia. He dropped his first set, but battled back to win the second set. He could not complete the comeback and tallied his first singles loss of the season, 6-4, 3-6, 6-0.

“Mitchell is a good player and he took advantage of a few mistakes I made,” Nevolo said. “I turned things around the second set but couldn’t keep it up. Overall, I just have to keep doing what I’m doing and fine-tune my game so I can maintain that high level of focus throughout my matches.”

Both Nevolo and Kalmanovich earned an automatic entry to the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships by advancing to the quarterfinals of this weekend’s tournament. The tournament will take place Nov. 3-6 in Flushing, N.Y. The Illni will return to the courts Oct. 13-16 for the ITA Midwest Regionals in Columbus, Ohio.

“Being emotionally mutual and confident in big occasions has really been key,” Kalmanovich said. “Even though I wasn’t able to pull of the win, putting myself in a position to win is important. I feel great going in to these next events.”