Illinois men’s tennis earns first Big Ten win against Indiana


Austin Yattoni

Illinois’ Julian Childers celebrates after winning a game in his match against Indiana’s Matthew McCoy at Atkins Tennis Center on Friday, February 10. Childers defeated McCoy and the Illini won 5-2.

By Meghan Rest, Staff writer

The Illinois men’s tennis team started conference play this weekend by breaking Indiana’s seven-match winning streak at home and later picking up a victory over Notre Dame.

Illinois now has a 4-2.

The Hoosiers took an early lead Friday night at the Atkins tennis center.

Antonio Cembellin and Stefan Lugonjic defeated freshman Vuk Budic and senior Alex Jesse. Freshman Gui Gomes and junior Aron Hiltzik also fell to No. 31 Raheel Manji and Kevion Tabrizi in the doubles competition.

However, junior Aleks Vukic and freshman Aleks Kovacevic brought home their first doubles win of the season against the Hoosiers’ undefeated team of Bennett Crane and Zac Brodney.

Hiltzik and Vukic lead the Illini to victory in the singles competition despite an early lead by Hoosiers, according to head coach Brad Dancer.

“I just felt like overall, it was maybe not our best performance, but when it got tough, we had some guys pull through and get the win,” Dancer said. “Again, we were led by Aron (Hiltzik) and Vuki (Aleks Vukic) up top.”

In singles, Hiltzik beat Tabriz to take the advantage for the Illini. Vukic and Kovacevic trailed with victories of their own, pushing Illinois to a 3-1 lead over Indiana.

Senior Julian Childers laced together the team victory after winning the last match of the evening. Childers also clinched the team win against Notre Dame Sunday afternoon.

Although the men ended the weekend with another triumph over Notre Dame, the Illini have a busy week to look forward to as they travel to Charlottesville, Virginia, for a doubleheader Tuesday.

“I think we could have prepared our team a little bit better for [Indiana],” Dancer said. “We have a big stretch coming up and I think that was in the back of our minds with our preparation this week.”

Staying ahead of opponents from the start is one of the main focuses the Illini have looking forward to this week.

“We have five distinct issues with today and how we came at the matches,” Dancer said. “When we dig ourselves holes and climb out of them, as a coach, you have to love the effort and resiliency, but we can be better.”

On Tuesday, the Illini will face the College of William and Mary at 10 a.m. and then No. 1 Virginia at 4:00 p.m.

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