No. 6 Illinois men’s tennis looks ahead to clash with No. 3 Wisconsin at Big Ten tournament quarterfinals


Sidney Malone

Graduate student Oliver Stuart reaches over to backhand the ball during his singles match against Purdue for Senior Day on Sunday. The Illini will be heading towards Madison, Wisconsin to play against the Badgers for the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals on Friday.

By Drew Friberg, Sports Editor

No. 6 Illinois will face No. 3 Wisconsin on Friday evening in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament to begin its title defense of last May’s triumph in the final.

Despite losing 4-3 to the Badgers in the regular season just three weeks ago, the Illini are still confident they will come out on top.

“I’m pretty confident,” graduate student Olivier Stuart said on Sunday. “I’m very excited to go to the Big Ten championships.”

Since the two’s meeting on April 10, the Illini have won four straight wins over Purdue, Indiana, Eastern Illinois and Northwestern see Illinois enter Friday in its best form of the season.

Wisconsin is also in good form. The Badgers are currently on a three-win streak in conference play since April 10, beating Indiana, Penn State and Purdue. 

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Although the Badgers’ bout against the Northwestern Wildcats came just two days before playing the Illini, it is worth noting their 5-2 defeat was their most recent defeat. Illinois beat the Northwestern roster 4-1 at home just two weeks ago.

The Illini’s stellar run of form with a big win along the way has given them the confidence to take on an in-form Badger lineup with the intention to not only win, but potentially repeat last year’s title.

“Last time we played them, we were coming off a pretty tough loss,” sophomore Hunter Heck said. “Now that we have a few wins going into this one, I think we are ready and pretty confident.”

Friday’s match will see two in-form teams play each other at the perfect time of the season. The loser’s season will potentially be over for good.

The winner, however, will move on to the semifinals, playing the winner of No. 2 Michigan’s bout against No. 10 Indiana/ No. 7 Penn State. Barring the largest upset of the season for Big Ten men’s tennis, No. 2 Michigan will meet the winner of Illinois’ match in the semifinals.

Despite the confidence held by Stuart, Heck and the rest of the Illinois roster, the team’s best tennis will need to be on display, as the road to achieving a back-to-back Big Ten championship will likely require knocking off two top-10 teams in the country.

Action in Madison, Wisconsin, begins at 6 p.m. on Friday with the Illini’s match against the Badgers. If Illinois wins their first match, the semifinals will take place on Saturday at 3 p.m., and if Illinois moves on to make it to the finals, they will play again on Sunday at noon.



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