Illinois men’s tennis splits up for weekend competitions, aims to end fall season on high note

Illinois+mens+tennis+head+coach+Brad+Dancer+talks+to+Gabrielius+Guzauskas+during+the+Illini+Invite+Oct.++17.+The+team+aims+to+end+their+fall+season+on+a+high+note.+

James Hoeck

Illinois men’s tennis head coach Brad Dancer talks to Gabrielius Guzauskas during the Illini Invite Oct. 17. The team aims to end their fall season on a high note.

By Drew Friberg, Staff Writer

After a long week off from competition for the Illini, the team will split up and compete in several tournaments this coming weekend.

Prior to the break, the Illini put together a great weekend in East Lansing at the ITA Midwest Regionals, where they saw great success in the doubles competition, specifically fielding two of the top eight duos at the competition. Graduate student Olivier Stuart in particular had an extremely successful weekend, making it to the quarterfinals of the singles competition and the semifinals of the doubles competition with redshirt junior Nic Meister.

Other notable Illini at the competition include sophomore Hunter Heck, who made the top 16 in the singles bracket and quarterfinals of the doubles bracket with his partner redshirt sophomore Lucas Horve.

Of the tournaments listed for the weekend, the biggest for the Illini is in Columbus, Ohio, as a few Illini have been selected to compete in the Big Ten Singles and Doubles Championships. The rest of the roster will be competing unattached at different locations across the country, with some guys going to Louisville, Kentucky for the Louisville UTR Challenge, a few going to Fort Myers, Florida for the FGCU Collegiate Cup and the rest will head to Winston Salem, North Carolina for the Wake Forest Invite.

With such a solid run of form for the Illini, it may be easy to look past this weekend’s smaller competitions and instead solely focus on the Big Ten Singles and Doubles Championships, but it is important to understand why the team is splitting up for a weekend.

Head coach Brad Dancer has heavily stressed the importance of improving his team’s overall game ahead of the spring season and big fall tournaments like the Big Ten Singles Championship. By sending players unattached to different tournaments, Dancer aims to ensure his guys get the best practice they can.

“It’s just so different for each guy,” Dancer said when asked about how his team has been improving this fall. “I think that’s been a key for us all, and it needs to continue to be our focus.”

All of this stress on improving is with tournaments like the Big Ten Singles and Doubles Championships in mind, as the Illini go there to try and use the momentum built from ITA Midwest Regionals and put together a run in the bracket. The Illini traveling to East Lansing will need to have the right mindset in order to be successful in the bracket.

“We are talking a lot about maintaining a high level of focus,” Dancer said. “Not so much worrying about our own games but what we are doing to recognize weaknesses in opponents.”

No matter which tournament each member of the team is going to, the Illini will be using this weekend to gear up for the winter and spring season as they look to end the fall season on a high note.

 

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