Illinois to close out regular season at Indiana

Senior+Vuc+Budic+talks+to+Siphosothando+Montsi+in+between+points+against+Minnesota+on+April+4.+The+Illinois+mens+tennis+team+will+close+out+their+regular+season+at+Indiana+this+weekend.

Cameron Krasucki

Senior Vuc Budic talks to Siphosothando Montsi in between points against Minnesota on April 4. The Illinois men’s tennis team will close out their regular season at Indiana this weekend.

By Enji Erdenekhuyag, Staff Writer

With its 17-2 record, the Illinois men’s tennis team locked in a No. 1 seed for the Big Ten Tournament. So with one more match left to play in the regular season, it may not seem as though the Illini could earn more than just polishing that record when they travel to Indiana this weekend.  

“We sort of already wrapped up the number one seed in the West, so you’re wondering to yourself, ‘Hey, what are we sort of quote-unquote playing for?’” said head coach Brad Dancer.

But as easy as it is to fall for that simple narrative, Dancer doesn’t want it to catch on.

“I gotta remind our guys there’s a lot we’re still playing for from a NCAA standpoint in terms of seeding, and then also just personal pride and how we got about doing things,” Dancer said. “This very easily can be a trap match for us, and that’ll be up for us to figure out how to avoid.”

The Illini originally were supposed to play the Hoosiers March 19, but due to COVID-19 protocols, the match was rescheduled to this Saturday. 

Entering the match, Illinois holds a winning streak of 13 and has several players who have built up consecutive wins of their own, two of which come from undefeated singles players Aleks Kovacevic and Zeke Clark. Though he happily acknowledges these accomplishments, Dancer doesn’t think momentum is a factor the team can rely on to pull off a win at Indiana – or anywhere else for that matter. 

“Every week is certainly a brand new, unique challenge for each guy because every guy is in a different place,” Dancer said. “So, we’ll meet with our guys, try to figure out what we need to do for each of them and get all those guys in the best possible place we can be at.”

This match also will be the last one of the regular season for Indiana. The 6-8 Hoosiers are coming off an off week after their match against the Boilermakers was canceled for reasons related to COVID-19.

“We know Indiana’s a really good team,” Dancer said. “I think they got snaked a bit early on when they had to play without some of their players. They’re playing fully capable now, and they’ve got a lot of great players. We’ve got a lot of respect for them, and so we know it’s gonna be a tough match on the road.” 

Despite the challenges that may come this weekend, Vuk Budic hopes the team can close out the season on a high note. 

“Every match that we play is just more experience under our belt and getting us ready for a massive challenge the weekend after at the Big Ten Tournament,” Budic said. 

The match will start at 2 p.m. central standard time Saturday in Bloomington.

 

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