Kovacevic leads Team USA to second-straight title at Master’U Tournament


The Daily Illini File Photo

Aleks Kovacevic returns the ball during the match against Penn State at the Atkins Tennis Center on April 12. Kovacevic carries the best NCAA tournament run since 2007.

By Luca Ripani, Staff Writer

Illinois senior Aleks Kovacevic helped lead Team U.S.A. to its second-straight and ninth-overall title at the Master’U BNP Paribas Collegiate Tournament this weekend in Grenoble, France.

Kovacevic was joined by Stanford’s Alexandre Rotsaert and Keegan Smith of the University of California, Los Angeles. On the women’s side was Alexa Graham of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as Stanford’s Michaela Gordon and Jada Hart, also of UCLA. The squads were coached by longtime Team U.S.A. head coach Greg Patton and current UCLA women’s assistant head coach Rance Brown.

Team U.S.A. competed against France on day one, with Kovacevic facing Ronan Joncour in the first singles round. Kovacevic eventually fell in two sets, 6-7, 2-6. But, Kovacevic also competed in the team’s men’s doubles event during the first day, pairing with Rotsaert against Louis Dussin and Francois Musitelli. The duo fell, this time in three sets, 6-7, 6-4, 4-10. Although Kovacevic dropped his two matches of the day, his teammates emerged victorious in their matches with the team winning four out of the six matches and advancing to the semifinals.

On the second day of competition, Team U.S.A. faced Ireland in the semifinals. Kovacevic went up against Simon Carr in his singles matchup, defeating him in three sets, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. Later that day, Kovacevic was paired with Smith in the doubles matchup against Sean Collins and Simon O’Callahan. In the single-set format, the duo secured a decisive victory, winning 8-3. The team won six of its seven matches the second day and advanced to the tournament finals.

On the last day of the tournament in the finals, Team U.S.A. went head to head with Team Great Britain. In singles, Kovacevic faced Ben Jones, winning in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2. For the final match of the tournament, Kovacevic was once again paired with Smith for the doubles matchup, competing against Jones again as well as Dan Little. The pair of Kovacevic-Smith secured the team’s doubles title in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2. On the final day, Team U.S.A. won four of five matches and secured another Championship title.

Next, Kovacevic will prepare for the spring tennis season, as the Illini recently finished their fall campaign with the JSM Challenger in mid-November. The team will continue to participate in unscheduled events to remain in shape, but the spring season will officially begin with a road trip to Georgia Tech in late January for the MLK Invitational in Atlanta.