Men’s tennis drops dual meet to No. 5 Florida

The No. 18 Illinois men’s tennis team continued this season’s struggles Sunday against No. 5 Florida, dropping the match 6-1.

After a rebound victory against No. 18 Tennessee on Feb. 5, the Orange and Blue could not get an early jump on the Gators in Gainesville, Fla. Despite the duo of Roy Kalmanovich and Dennis Nevolo defeating the nation’s No. 4 doubles pairing of Billy Federhofer and Nassim Slilam, Illinois dropped its fifth straight doubles point, starting the meet with an early 1-0 deficit.

“Recently, the doubles courts have been the epitome of the word ‘frustration,’” head coach Brad Dancer said. “Frustrating in the sense that we aren’t capitalizing in key situations. This is the third match in a row where we are up a break in all three courts and we can’t get the point.”

In singles play, No. 24-ranked senior Kalmanovich was the only Illini to pick up a win, defeating Slilam, 7(2)-6, 6-4.

“Roy did a great job playing his match,” Dancer said. “He had a few opportunities to close out, but he stuck with it and was able to come out on top.”

Nevolo, ranked No. 2 nationally, picked up his second loss of the spring season against No. 69 Bob van Overbeek, 7(5)-6, 6-4.

“Nevolo and everyone else have been struggling. There were certainly opportunities for success today,” Dancer said. “Some of our guys played nervous and uptight, didn’t play with the freedom that we expect from our players.”

Freshmen Ross Guignon and Tim Kopinski each dropped their singles matches. Juniors Stephen Hoh and Bruno Abdelnour also could not pick up a win.

“We have to start playing with spirit, intensity, and we can’t be concerned from losing some points here and there based upon some unlucky things or not executing our shots,” Dancer said. “Our guys are starting to play in the way that we want them to play, but we are still seeing too much lack of execution. If we implement, force and push our game onto our opponents and are able to successfully execute our shots, I know we can be better players down the line.”

The Illini will continue their season at Nebraska on Friday, March 2.