The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Illini men’s tennis heads south for ITA Kickoff Weekend, takes on undefeated North Carolina State

Sophomore+Illinois+mens+tennis+Alex+Petrov+hits+the+ball+during+his+singles+match+against+Chicago+State+on+Saturday.+Petrov+won+his+match+6-0+and+6-1.+

Sydney Laput

Sophomore Illinois men’s tennis Alex Petrov hits the ball during his singles match against Chicago State on Saturday. Petrov won his match 6-0 and 6-1.

By Drew Friberg, Staff Writer

Illinois will look to regain its footing after a lackluster performance at its spring season home opener when it travels to Oxford, Mississippi, this Saturday to play North Carolina State in the ITA Kick-off Weekend.

Last time out, the Illini split their matches with their visitors, losing 4-0 to the No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes and beating the Chicago State Cougars, 4-0. Although the Illini went 1-1 on the weekend, the preparation and performance overall was not good enough, and as a result the Illini have slipped to No. 25 in the rankings.

“Any time you look like that, you can put it back on the coaching staff,” said head coach Brad Dancer after Saturday’s matches. “Clearly, we weren’t prepared, we weren’t focused and we weren’t dialed in.”

The Wolfpack of North Carolina State are coming into Saturday’s match against the Illini on a red-hot 2-0 start, with a 7-0 win over Princeton and a 6-1 win over Campbell. It will take a lot of discipline to overcome this Wolfpack roster. 

Some keys to victory for the Illini this weekend may be their youth, as one player caught Dancer’s eye this past weekend.

“I think (sophomore Alex) Petrov did a great job today,” Dancer said. “Going out there, he was probably the best of anyone in terms of concentration.”

Petrov won his singles match on Court 5 in the Illini’s match against Chicago State before anyone else. He defeated his opponent swiftly, winning 6-0, 6-1. This was Petrov’s only match of the spring season thus far, but with performances like his against Chicago State, he may be utilized in the Illini’s upcoming matches.

Also attending the ITA Kick-off Weekend are No. 18 Ole Miss and No. 22 Oklahoma. The winner of the match between Ole Miss and Oklahoma will face off against the winner of the Illini’s match on Sunday, and the two losers will face off in a consolation match.

No. 18 Ole Miss is currently coming into the weekend sitting at 3-0, having beaten Tennessee State twice and winning a close match against Alabama, 4-3. 

No. 22 Oklahoma has cruised through its spring season so far, boasting a 5-0 record. All of the Sooners’ wins have been extremely dominant, with their closest match being against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, a 5-2 victory. There will be no easy match at the ITA Kick-off Weekend.

The main goal for this Illinois team this weekend is rebounding after such a tough loss to Ohio State. No matter who they play, the Illini will look to gain momentum for the rest of the season by putting up big wins this weekend and moving back up in the rankings.

The Illini play their first match against the Wolfpack on Saturday at 4 p.m., and the result of that match will determine their opponent and match time on Sunday.

 

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