Men’s tennis to host doubleheader before traveling to Madison

It has been 13 days since the No. 11 Illinois men’s tennis team played a match. It will make up for the rest it had with a doubleheader Friday before a trip north Sunday.

Illinois (7-5) will host Ball State (10-3) at 10 a.m. on Friday at the Kahn Outdoor Tennis Complex and will face Illinois State (7-5) at 3 p.m.

On Sunday, the team will head to Madison, Wis., to take on No. 34 Wisconsin. That match will be televised live on Big Ten Network.

Ball State is off to a hot start to begin the year but is 0-2 against ranked opponents. It will be led by Eduardo Pavia, who is 10-1 in No. 1 singles and is on a 10-match winning streak.

“Every year (they) are one of the most well-coached teams,” head coach Brad Dancer said. “Bill Richards is a coaching icon at this point. His teams usually play great doubles and have great spirit.”

Richards is in his 37th year as the Ball State head coach and is the winningest coach in Mid-American Conference history.

The Illini will then take on the Redbirds in the second match of the day. Freshman Stephen Hoh believes that fatigue will be a factor.

“The second match is going to be much tougher with it being the second of the day,” he said. “We’ve just got to push through it. We’ve done a lot of fitness throughout the year so we’re pretty used to it.”

While Dancer knows it will be a long day, he believes that the two matches can instill some confidence in his squad.

“I think they’re really good in terms of where they come (on the schedule),” Dancer said. “Playing tennis matches is not about going out and having everything going smooth — it’s dealing with the ups and downs and the different things coming out of a match. You get used to the ins and outs and flow of those matches.”

For junior Johnny Hamui, playing outside at home for the first time this season will be welcomed. As a transfer from the University of Florida, Hamui has played a great deal of his career outdoors and is more comfortable there.

“You have the sun, you have the wind, and you have to adapt to all of those,” he said. “Indoors, it’s more of an attacking game, and outside it gives you a little more leeway to counter-attack and get back into points if you fall behind.”

On Sunday, the Illini will travel to take on the Badgers (10-4), who are led by No. 13 Moritz Baumann and No. 25 Marek Michalicka. Michalicka is a perfect 10-0 to start the season, while Baumann has won his last three matches. The duo also pair up to make the No. 11 doubles team in the nation.

“They’re great players with very different styles,” Dancer said. “They’ve moved their guys around and we’ve moved our guys around a little bit so it may be a flip of a coin to see who plays who up there.”

To counter, the Illini will likely use No. 64 Marek Czerwinski, No. 36 Dennis Nevolo, and No. 77 Abe Souza in Nos. 1-3 singles, respectively.

Sunday’s contest is the second Big Ten match for the Illini this season in their hunt for the conference championship, but it may not come easy. Illinois edged out then-No. 19 Wisconsin last season, 4-3, after going 1-1 against the Badgers in 2008.