Illinois men’s tennis falls 4-0 to Ohio State in season rematch

By Martin O'Connor, Staff Writer

For the second time this season, Illinois has lost to Ohio State 0-4. In a game that could have been a huge statement win for the Illini, the team instead finished the season series with no wins. This now means that the Illini have gone winless against a strong Ohio State team this season. Ohio State finds itself currently ranked No. 2 in the nation, and after a dominant performance against Illinois, it has proved why.

Another tough loss is not all bad for Illinois, however. On March 19, Illinois faced No. 1 TCU and now No. 2 Ohio State. Although the team lost both matches, playing against a higher caliber opponent helps provide important experience to an Illini team that has a handful of younger players. Perhaps that’s the only silver lining from this hard-fought loss.

Doubles matches started with Kenta Miyoshi and Alex Petrov, a match that saw them lose 6-2 against Cannon Kingsley and JJ Tracy. Oliver Okonkwo and Mathis Debru suffered the next loss in doubles matches, losing 6-4 to No. 36 duo Robert Cash and Justin Boulais. The No. 7 ranked duo Andrew Lutschaunig and James Trotter took on No. 49 duo Hunter Heck and Karlis Ozolins in a close game that ended unfinished.

Moving onto singles matches, the Illini did not enjoy any more success as they either lost or had their match go unfinished as well. No. 33 ranked Ozolins’ match went unfinished against No. 2 ranked singles player Kingsley. Heck and Okonkwo followed suit, with both of their matches going unfinished as well. Both matches were nail-biters as the teammates played three sets each.

Perhaps if the unfinished matches weren’t clinched, the Illini would have had their first win against Ohio State this season. Instead, Petrov, William Mroz and Nic Meister all lost their matches, with Petrov’s matchup being the closest out of the trio. Petrov played three sets, going 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 against #25 ranked James Trotter. Meanwhile, Mroz and Meister succumbed to similar defeats, with Mroz losing 6-1, 6-2 and Meister losing 6-2, 6-1.

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    Head coach Brad Dancer compared the matchup to a prize fight. He stated the team needs to be able to take their opponent’s best while the team also dishes out their best. This certainly was not the result anyone wanted, with this loss being the first loss at home this season. The unbeaten streak lasted seven games but has now come to an end against a very solid Ohio State side.

    Illinois next plays away against Purdue on Friday at 2 p.m., where it’ll hope to bounce back from this tough defeat.


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