Illini gain momentum before Wednesday match


Austin Yattoni

Junior Zeke Clark serves the ball during a match. The men’s tennis team boasts several powerful duos in fast-paced doubles matches, leaving plenty to look out for this season.

By Meghan Rest, Assistant sports editor

The No. 15-ranked Illinois men’s tennis team toppled Duke at home Friday night 6-1 in the team’s spring season opener. The Illini now move to 18-7 overall and lead the all-time series against the Blue Devils.

Junior Aleks Kovacevic and sophomore Caleb Chakravarthi led the Illini with back-to-back 6-2 singles victories. Freshman Keenan Mayo clinched Illinois’ match point and also collected a singles victory 6-4, 6-4 over Duke’s Robert Levine. Junior Noe Khlif won his first set against Vincent Lin, 6-0 but lost his second 5-7. Khlif battled back to win the last set 6-3.

Sophomores Alex Brown and Chakravarthi kicked off doubles play with a 6-2 win over the Blue Devils’ Nick Stachowiak and Spencer Furman. Junior Aleks Kovacevic and freshman Keenan Mayo also defeated Duke’s Robert Levine and Jason Lapidus.

Junior Zeke Clark sank his teeth into the final point for the Illini, after overcoming the Blue Devils’ Catalin Mateas 10-8 in a third set tiebreaker. The Illini won 6-2 and added to their season-opener winning record, making it 13 victories over 14 seasons, all under the guidance of head coach Brad Dancer.

Illinois will travel to South Bend, Indiana, to compete against Notre Dame on Wednesday. The outing marks the team’s first regular season road match.

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