Illini men's tennis cruises to victory over Minnesota on Friday

By Alex Wallner

[email protected] earned a third straight shut out over Minnesota on Friday.

Cold and windy conditions permitted the No. 15 Illinois men’s tennis team from competing outside against Minnesota on Friday.

But the Illini heated up inside, winning two of their three doubles competitions to start the afternoon.

Illinois then carried over its doubles momentum into singles play and earned their third consecutive shut out and 11th win of the season.

Minnesota has yet to win a Big Ten match this season and fell to 6-12 overall.

In doubles play, the combo of Brian Page and Julian Childers fell to 4-3 overall and suffered their first conference loss to the duo of Matic Spec and Jeremy Lynn, 6-4.

The Childers and Page duo is one of three combinations that Childers has been paired with this season.

Childers said that despite the loss, Page and him have an off-the-court bond as well.

“Me and Brian have been roommates for the last three years,” Childers said. “I think we have a good chemistry on the court and we like to have fun out there. It’s easy to play with him. It’s just that there’s no pressure on me and there’s no pressure on him, so I think that it works well for both of us.”

Childers has also partnered with freshman Pengxuan Jiang and junior Alex Jesse, who is injured.

The teams of Aleks Vukic and Aron Hiltzik along with Jared Hiltzik and Asher Hirsch earned the two wins needed to be rewarded the doubles point.

In singles play, No. 4 Vukic continued his impressive play, by making easy work of Minnesota’s top single’s player, Matic Spec, in straight sets.

The Illini sophomore won 6-4 and 6-1, to defeat the man who upset Jared Hiltzik during last year’s Gopher victory.

No. 10-ranked Jared Hiltzik and Childers also won in straight sets as well to close out the match.

“I like to win as many Big Ten matches as I can because a lot of them are stopped because (the team) has clinched, so it’s good to get a win before the match is over,” Childers said.

The junior is now 8-7 on the season and 4-0 in the Big Ten in singles play.

Illinois had controllable leads in every singles match before it was clinched.

For Page, who is coming off of his first singles win of the season, said he carried his Purdue play from last weekend into the Minnesota match on Friday.

“Going after my serve and just competing well,” Page said. “I think I did a decent job of that today, definitely could have been better. It’s nice when your teammates are cruising to take the pressure off you as well.”

Minnesota continues to struggle, as the Gophers have now lost five out of their last six matches on the season.Jared Hiltzik said that the record doesn’t matter when it comes to Big Ten competition.

“Every match is the same,” Hiltzik said. “We just go about it and maybe they have been struggling a little bit, but they’re a good team and they’ll probably pick it up towards the end of the year.”

Hiltzik, who defeated Ruben Weber, said that he started the match off well before losing some of his focus down the stretch. He added that he still needs to work on some things.

“I need to continue to hold on to my ground a little bit better,” Hiltzik said. “Not getting pushed around as much and that’s just been a work in progress for the last couple of months.”

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@AWallner93