Newest member of the Illini, Blake Bazarnik, makes solid debut

The newest member of the Illinois men’s tennis team, junior Blake Bazarnik, opened his career with a strong showing at the OFCC Invitational in Olympia Fields, Ill., this past weekend. Bazarnik — a transfer from Vanderbilt — finished the weekend with a record of 3-1, which included three straight-set victories.

“I think Blake has been on an upward path since he arrived on campus,” head coach Brad Dancer said. “This weekend was overall a very positive experience for him.”

Bazarnik defeated Virginia’s Alex Schienman (6-0, 6-1) on Friday. He would go on to defeat Billy Pecor of Notre Dame (6-1, 7-5) on Saturday and Sudanwa Sitaram of Texas (6-0, 6-3) on Sunday. His only blemish of the weekend came on Saturday in a defeat to Notre Dame’s Eddy Covalschi (6-4, 7-6).

Although Dancer said he was proud to see Bazarnik play well in his first match as an Illini, he still wants to see further growth and progress from the junior transfer.

“We saw some positive things from him, but at the end of the day he still needs to continue on that upward path since he’s not playing at his full potential yet either,” he said.

Guignon expects to return this month

The Illini were without one of their top players over the weekend with the absence of junior Ross Guignon, who took last weekend off to rest with inflammation in both knees over the last few weeks.

“We always had the option of having Ross compete over the weekend, but we both mutually decided that we didn’t want to take any risks with his overall health,” Dancer said. “We were not willing to possibly have him reaggravate the injury issues he has had with his knees, especially given that we have some important meets down the road.”

Guignon used the weekend off from competition to continue to rest and get ready for the Illini’s next meet late this month. He said, though not at 100 percent, he expects to make his season debut in the ITA All-American meet in Tulsa, Okla.

“I will definitely be playing at the next meet for us,” he said. “Certainly, I won’t be at 100 percent, and I probably won’t until the start of the spring season, but I still want to get out there and compete.”

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and @danescalona77.