Illinois men’s tennis enjoys four-team sweep in home opener


Photo courtesy of @alexdpetrov Instagram

Junior Alex Petrov practices on Monday at Atkins after a win the past day against Drake and Bellarmine. Petrov held a win streak during the weekend matchups at Atkins all ending in favor of the Illini.

By Martin O'Connor, Staff Writer

The Illini came and conquered at their 2023 opening weekend, defeating Butler, Illinois State, Drake and Bellarmine all in one weekend. The weekend started with a doubleheader sweep of Butler 4-0 and Illinois State 6-1 and then continued with another doubleheader sweep over Drake 5-2 and Bellarmine 6-1.

The team now sits with a 6-2 record on the season, tripling their win tally in just two days. After suffering back-to-back defeats last weekend to Ohio State and Kentucky, this weekend proved to be the bounce back the team needed.

On Saturday, the Illini first faced off against Butler. Junior Hunter Heck and freshman Kenta Miyoshi won their doubles match 6-1 followed by sophomores William Mroz and Karlis Ozolins winning 6-4 in their match. Teammates redshirt junior Lucas Horve and sophomore Gabrielius Guzauskas lost their doubles match.

 Ozolins, Miyoshi, Mroz, graduate student Oliver Okonkwo, graduate student Nic Meister and junior Alex Petrov all went on to play in the singles matches just a few minutes later. Meister won 6-0 in straight sets, Petrov won 6-0, 6-1 and Mroz won 6-2, 6-1 to clinch the 4-0 victory.

After Butler, the team competed in an interstate matchup versus Illinois State. Illinois won all of the doubles matches with Ozolins/Heck winning 6-1 and Mroz/Miyoshi winning 6-0. Debru and Guzauskas’ doubles match went unfinished. Mroz then suffered the only defeat in singles matches versus Illinois State, with teammates Miyoshi, Okonkwo, Guzauskas, Debru and Meister all picking up singles wins to round out a successful day one at Atkins.

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The Illini then carried this momentum into Sunday where they competed against Drake and Bellarmine. The team first downed Drake with a very dominant performance. Ozolins/Heck, Debru/Okonkwo and Miyoshi/Mroz all won their doubles matches. Heck and Mroz’s singles matches were the only losses against Drake, as teammates Ozolins, Okonkwo, Petrov and Miyoshi all went on to win their singles matches.

The last challenge of Opening Weekend was Bellarmine, the last team left to complete a clean sweep on the weekend. Illinois continued its strong doubles play with Heck/Horve, Okonkwo/Debru, and Miyoshi/Guzauskas all winning their matchups. Singles matches almost saw the Illini finish undefeated against Bellarmine with Petrov, Debru, Okonkwo, Guzauskas and Meister all winning their matchups. Miyoshi was the lone singles match loss against Bellarmine.

After a very successful and dominant weekend, the team now holds a 6-2 record on the season. The team showed out in front of the home crowd this weekend, they finished with a 21-4 aggregate against Butler, Illinois State, Drake and Bellarmine. Illinois competes next against Duke in Durham, N.C. on Friday.


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