Illinois men’s tennis set to face Arizona State in 1st round of NCAA tournament

Freshman+Kenta+Miyoshi+starts+a+serve+against+Michael+Minasyan+from+Wisconsin+in+tennis+singles+on+April+14.

Eric Chiang

Freshman Kenta Miyoshi starts a serve against Michael Minasyan from Wisconsin in tennis singles on April 14.

By Martin O'Connor, Staff Writer

After an average showing at the Big Ten tournament, Illinois men’s tennis finds itself on a path of redemption as it takes on Arizona State in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Illinois (19-11) understands it’s facing a very solid Arizona State (15-9) squad, a team it last saw at the start of the season in the Sun Devil Hidden Dual. During this last time out the Illini enjoyed great success, securing wins in seven of the 10 matches played.

This upcoming matchup in Cambridge, Massachusetts will be no walk in the park. In order for this team to go far in the tournament, they will need to play as a unit. True freshman Kenta Miyoshi understands that if this team wants to reach its full potential they have to fight as one and not as individuals.

“I think we’re still in a mental space where we’re dealing with ourselves and not our opponents,” Miyoshi said. “If we can figure that out and find a way to fight against our opponents then we can definitely beat those elite teams.”

After missing out on the NCAA tournament in their 2022 campaign, the Illini certainly will look to make a statement this year. After an inconsistent season, ending on a high note in this tournament could help make the season look much more successful. Now that they are here, they’ll need to work together as a team to go far. Miyoshi knows that the team has come a long way and that they need to be a unit in order to impress at the tournament.

“Compared to the start of the season, we’re not just fighting as individuals,” Miyoshi said. “I think we’re fighting as a team.”

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    This is something that is easier said than done, however. The Illini will need to be at the top of their game to secure a first round win. Miyoshi spoke on how the team isn’t underestimating Arizona State ahead of their matchup.

    “We all think that ASU is a really good team and they have really good players too,” Miyoshi said. “We need to come after them no matter what. If we can be ready and fight against them I think we’ll be able to beat them.”

    The team will take the rounds of the tournament one by one. Right now all the focus is on Arizona State and not on who they could potentially play in the second round. Arizona State truly will be a full circle moment as the team will hope that history repeats itself and the Illini enjoy a victory over the Sun Devils.

    Illinois men’s tennis will play Arizona State in Cambridge on Friday at 10 a.m. CDT.

     

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