Road struggles continue as Illinois men’s tennis loses to Duke, North Carolina


Sidney Malone

Junior Hunter Heck returns the ball during a match against Purdue on April 24, 2022. The Illini have shown to struggle on the road recently after two losses this weekend.

By Martin O'Connor, Staff Writer

Illinois men’s tennis lost at Duke (3–4) and at North Carolina (0–4) this weekend. These two road losses raise some concern about Illinois’ ability to compete on the road as the Illini are currently 2–0 on neutral ground, 4–0 at home and 0–4 away on the season. 

The action started against Duke where Illinois’ singles play nearly carried them to a win. Freshman Kenta Miyoshi along with graduates Nic Meister and Oliver Okonkwo all won their singles matches; however, these were the only points Illinois got at Duke. Junior Hunter Heck, sophomore Gabrielius Guzauskas and sophomore William Mroz all lost their singles matches and the Illini did not add any doubles wins to the tally. 

In the end, the Illini were close to pulling off a win, but they just couldn’t reach that final step. Road games always place a disadvantage on the away team. The combination of distance and Illinois’ busy start-of-season schedule caused some tired legs and minds. 

The weekend continued against No. 14 North Carolina, who almost completely wiped the floor with the Illini. Heck, Mroz and Miyoshi all lost their matches while Guzauskas, Okonkwo and Meister all had their matches go unfinished. The lone win at North Carolina came from Debru’s and Okonkwo’s doubles win, however redshirt junior Lucas Horve and Heck as well as Mroz and Guzauskas both lost their doubles matches. 

This weekend’s matches were certainly not the result the Illini wanted, but they will be back at home for their next two matches. It has been a solid start to the season, even when considering Illinois’ struggles during away matches. These away challenges are going to have to be overcome by the next away game if Illinois wants to step up a level. 

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Illinois men’s tennis will host a pair of matches next weekend, starting with Central Florida on Friday and followed by Notre Dame on Saturday. 


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