Illini men’s tennis finishes inconsistent 2023 season with bright future ahead

By Martin O'Connor, Staff Writer

Illinois men’s tennis has wrapped up its spring 2023 season with a record of 19-11. They finished 6-3 in their conference, 9-1 at home, 4-7 away and 6-3 on neutral ground. It was a very inconsistent season that saw the team go back and forth between wins and losses throughout the whole year. Although they haven’t reached their full potential yet, the future looks bright for their experienced young core. Only losing two seniors this year, the team will look to clique even better next fall.

“A lot of ups and downs,” said sophomore Alex Petrov. “A lot of the season was a work in progress, but we had a ton of good memories. We had dips here and there, but the whole thing was just fun.”

The team started their spring season away at the Sun Devil Hidden Valley Dual tournament hosted by Arizona State. The team started off very well in the tournament, amassing 16 total wins throughout the two days. Doubles partners sophomore William Mroz and sophomore Karlis Ozolins had a great start to the season at this tournament, with both of them winning each match they played.

After this tournament the Illini went on to win their next two matches against Wichita State 6-1 and Bryant 4-0. After these games the back-and-forth nature of the season was seen early on as the team then went on to lose their next two matches, losing 4-1 against No. 4 Kentucky and 6-1 to No. 3 Ohio State. A common theme this season has been how the team was able to handle inferior competition, however, they just could not make the final step up when facing the elite teams.

Most impressive from this past season was the incredible home record the Illini had at the Atkins Tennis Center. At one point they had a nine game-winning streak going on, only losing to Ohio State at home. It was the Buckeyes that had the Illini’s number this season as the two teams faced off four times with the Buckeyes winning every matchup. Despite the team’s struggles against the top competition, their dominant home performances have helped turn the Atkins Center into their fortress.

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    “I think even if we had a much better season we still wouldn’t be satisfied,” Petrov said. “You always want to do better things. We’re all ready to work and get after it next season.”

    Around the halfway point of this season Illinois earned a fantastic win over No. 6 Georgia, which showed fans a glimpse into what this team looks like we’re all cylinders are firing. With over half the team this year being sophomores or freshmen, this season helped a lot of the players gain much needed experience as they go on with their tennis careers. Petrov understands that there’s big things in the future for this team, they just have to put in the work to achieve it.

    “Hopefully a Big Ten crown in the near future,” Petrov said. “Hopefully we can get the ball rolling and have a great season.”

     

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