Illinois men’s tennis wins ITA Kick-Off tourney

The No. 22 Illinois men’s tennis team defeated No. 26 Michigan 4-2 on Sunday in the ITA Kick-Off finals in Oxford, Miss., to start its season 2-0 and advance to the National Indoor Championships.

The Illini, who swept No. 25 Clemson 4-0 on Saturday afternoon, surrendered the doubles point to the Wolverines to begin Sunday’s competition. Illinois’ No. 4 junior tandem of Ross Guignon and Tim Kopinski fell 3-6 to the unranked duo of Alex Buzzi and Barrett Franks. A 6-4 win from No. 31 juniors Farris Gosea and Blake Bazarnik evened the Illini’s odds, but No. 27 sophomores Jared Hiltzik and Alex Jesse dropped their match 5-6 to conclude the doubles round.

In singles, No. 4 Hiltzik fired out of the gates and quickly downed Vlad Stefan 6-1, 6-1. His win kept him undefeated in singles thus far in the season at 5-0. Kopinski followed shortly behind him at 6-4, 6-3 to give the Illini a 2-1 advantage.

Michigan would rebound by taking another point from Farris Gosea in three sets 6-4, 5-6, 4-6, but Illinois would close out with a pair of wins from freshman Brian Page (6-2, 6-3) and Bazarnik (4-6, 6-3, 6-1).

The Illini will have five dual matches, three at home, before beginning to compete for the national indoor title on Feb. 14.

J.J. can be reached at [email protected].com and @Wilsonable07.