The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Illinois men’s tennis displays promising results ahead of Norman, Tallahassee Futures

Junior+Karlis+Ozolins+as+he+returns+a+serve+from+Ohio+State+during+the+doubles+match+at+Atkins+Tennis+Center+on+Mar.+26.
Anne Schmidt
Junior Karlis Ozolins as he returns a serve from Ohio State during the doubles match at Atkins Tennis Center on Mar. 26.

Illinois men’s tennis recently returned from the Bobby Bayliss Invitational at Notre Dame and the ITA All-Americans Tennis Championships in Tulsa, Alabama.

Head coach Brad Dancer recently added former player Zeke Clark as a full-time assistant coach. With his firsthand experience and over one hundred wins as a player, his expertise will lead the young Illinois team for years to come.

In Notre Dame, all four players — junior Mathis Debru, freshman Jeremy Zhang, junior William Mroz and redshirt freshman Tyler Bowers — won their matches on day one. As a whole, the crew put up a respectable 13 wins for the weekend.

The Australian native Zhang is off to a great start in fall tennis as he racked up three wins himself over the tournament. Clark had high praise for Zhang.

“At first (Illinois) was a little overwhelming with the program’s intensity,” Clark said. “But he is starting to respond and will be a staple for us for his whole time here.”

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
Thank you for subscribing!

Down south in Tulsa, the power duo of senior Hunter Heck and junior Karlis Ozolins easily crushed the competition, qualifying for the doubles main draw. They reached the semi-finals and fought hard until ultimately were taken out by Texas’ Eliot Spizzirri and Cleeve Harper.

Line two doubles, redshirt senior Lucas Horve and graduate student Oliver Okonkwo made it through the tough qualifying and into the main draw until losing in straight sets to Columbia. For a duo’s first time playing with each other, the results will just get better as they adapt to each other’s style and nuances.

Moving on to singles, sophomore sensation Kenta Miyoshi has only lost a single match this season, which comes from the round of 32. He has accumulated six wins throughout the tournaments played.

“A big piece of the fall is getting the guys as many competitive matches as possible and they are playing tons of matches,” Clark said. “Just seeing how their bodies hold up.”

The Illini will be back on the road next week on Oct. 23 in the Norman and Tallahassee Futures. Both tournaments will span a sizeable six days and will really test the stamina of the players. With the Big Ten tournament approaching in November, all players are giving in their full effort to put up a successful season.

Anticipation is high among the coaching staff and players alike, with new staff additions and strong recruitment in the offseason. Our new recruits complement the existing roster of players and contribute to the competitiveness of the Illini.

As Illinois men’s tennis braces for the challenges ahead, their collective effort and dedication emphasize their determination to make a lasting impression at the upcoming tournaments. Illinois hopes to culminate a successful season as they march toward the highly anticipated Big Ten tournament in November.

 

[email protected]

More to Discover
ILLordle: Play now