Illini struggles mount against Gators

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Jeffrey Hsu

Junior Alex Brown prepares an underhanded hit during a match against Florida on Friday.

By Jackson Janes, Staff writer

After losing both games of its east coast road trip last weekend, the Illinois men’s tennis team returned home to Atkins Tennis Center to take on No. 3 Florida on Friday. The Illini fell flat, however, falling 7-0 to the Gators despite a loud, crowded stadium.

The Illini fell in all six of their singles matches, though juniors Fletcher Scott and Alex Brown, sophomore Siphosothando Montsi and redshirt freshman Lucas Horve took their matches to the final set, with all four ultimately falling in the third frame.

Senior Aleks Kovacevic, who received the 7-seed and finished in the final four in last year’s NCAA tournament, fell to Florida junior Oliver Crawford, the 8-seed at the tournament, in two sets, 6-3, 6-3. Senior Zeke Clark also lost in two sets, falling to Florida junior Duarte Vale, 6-3, 6-4. 

The Gators also dominated doubles competition. Florida’s Crawford and Sam Riffice defeated Illinois’ Kovacevic and Brown, 6-4, while Horve and senior Vuk Budic fell to Gator duo Vale and Josh Goodger, 6-3. Montsi and redshirt junior Gui Gomes did not complete their match against Will Grant and Johannes Ingildsen, with the Illini pair down 5-3 before the game was called.

Head coach Brad Dancer admitted he was frustrated, though he wanted to stay positive.

“I have a lot of belief in this team. I know these guys can turn it around,” Dancer said. “We have another great challenge on Sunday, so we will see if we can stop the bleeding.”

Illinois looks to turn things around at Atkins Tennis Center on Sunday against No. 24 Central Florida, who fell to Florida earlier in the year.

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