Men’s tennis, Net Nuts to welcome No. 8 Duke

By Jim Shay

There is something to be said about the benefits of home-court advantage.

As the men’s tennis team heads into Friday’s match against No. 8 Duke, many of the players are ready to give the Blue Devils a taste of their own medicine after facing a less-than-friendly crowd during their victory in Durham, N.C., last season.

For senior GD Jones, the match is still very fresh in his mind.

“We had some funny comments last year when we played Duke,” Jones said. “At the time, we were wearing some sleeveless cutoffs and got some comments about needing to get in the gym more. And we all had quite long hair, and we heard some hair-volume comments.”

Now, it’s the Net Nuts’ turn to provide their team with that necessary spark to victory.

Sophomore Marc Spicijaric had no second thoughts about how the home crowd is going to respond to the match on Friday.

“Our fans are in a whole other league,” Spicijaric said. “No fans compare to the Net Nuts. We went to Duke, and they had a pretty harsh crowd saying some unnecessary comments. But we didn’t let that bother us, and we destroyed them last year, and we plan on doing the same this year. Our fan base is just levels above any other in the nation.”

Following a rough loss at No. 5 Virginia last weekend, the seventh-ranked Illini are looking to rebound from the disappointing performance and reaffirm their position among the best teams in the country.

A victory over Duke on Friday would go a long way towards doing just that.

Sophomore Kiril Dimitrov, ranked 51st nationally, and a fourth-ranked doubles squad featuring seniors Joey Atas and David Goulet lead the Blue Devils. For head coach Brad Dancer, deciding on the right match-ups will be key to pulling out a victory on Friday.

Not long after the Duke match on Friday, the No. 41-ranked Tennessee Volunteers will make the trip to the Atkins Center on Saturday to take on the Illini. Two nationally ranked doubles teams, featuring fifth-ranked Bobby Cameron and Kaden Hensel as well as the 34th-ranked pairing of Adam Hubble and Ben Rogers, lead the Volunteers. For Dancer, there is no overlooking a Tennessee team that will be looking to surprise.

“Tennessee’s very good in doubles – they have two teams that are ranked – and they are actually very good in singles,” Dancer said.