Men finish second in Big Ten, women lose in semifinals
April 30, 2018
After an opening-round victory over Minnesota, the Illinois women’s tennis team was unable to continue its winning ways, as it fell in the semifinals to Michigan.
The Wolverines opened the match by securing the doubles point, as the sophomore duo of Lera Patiuk and Chiara Lommer defeated the Illini’s Asuka Kawai and Mia Rabinowitz 6-2, followed by Alyvia Jones and Mira Ruder-Hook taking down Emilee Duong and Jaclyn Switkes 6-4.
As the match moved to the singles events, Michigan secured the first victory, as Ruder-Hook beat Sasha Belaya 6-4, 6-3.
Illinois responded as Duong defeated Patiuk 6-2, 6-3, followed by Mia Rabinowitz extending her singles win streak to 13 with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Jones.
The winning did not stop there for the Illini, as Switkes took the victory over Wolverines’ Kate Fahey 6-3, 6-4. However, the comeback effort for the Illini fell short, as Illinois native Brienne Minor took down Daniela Pedraza-Novak 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, and Lommer defeated Kawai 2-6, 7-5, 6-3, clinching the narrow 4-3 match victory for Michigan.
Although the Illini were unable to bring home the Big Ten Championship, the opportunity to win a national championship is still possible, as they wait for the NCAA tournament field selection on Tuesday.
On the men’s side, Illinois battled for a Big Ten Championship heading into Sunday, after opening with a 4-0 sweep over Penn State and a semifinal victory over Michigan.
With the victory Saturday, head coach Brad Dancer tied Craig Tiley’s program record with 274 matches won, making Sunday ever more important, as he could secure a Big Ten Championship to go along with the program’s all-time wins record.
It was a comeback victory in the semifinals for the Illini, as the Wolverines began taking the doubles point. Connor Johnston and Myles Schalet took down the Illini’s Alex Brown and Caleb Chakravarthi 6-3, which was followed a 7-5 Michigan victory from Harrison Brown and Alex Knight over Vuk Budic and Aleks Vukic.
Illinois swept the singles matches. Alex Brown would start the comeback with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Schalet, and Vukic would also secure a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Knight. The Illini then saw a pair of winning streaks extended to exactly nine victories as Aleks Kovacevic and Zeke Clark both won to clinch a berth in the final.
Illinois met Ohio State on Sunday in a matchup of the third -and eighth-ranked teams in the nation. Ohio State opened by taking the doubles point. Although Budic and Vukic won the first game, Ohio State took the final two matches.
The Buckeyes’ dominance continued in singles play as Mikael Torpegaard, JJ Wolf and John McNalley recorded victories to complete the 4-0 sweep, clinching the Big Ten title.
The men will also have to wait until Tuesday to find out their postseason fate, and Dancer’s hope of eclipsing the wins record will have to wait.