Clark falls to reigning champion in Illini Open

Clark falls to reigning champion in Illini Open

URBANA — Zeke Clark has seen plenty of Petros Chrysochos in the past year.

Wake Forest shut out Clark and his Illini teammates twice last season before Chrysochos claimed the NCAA singles title at the end of May.

But while Clark's first match against the reigning singles champion ended in a three-set loss Tuesday night, the rising junior took little time picking out what went wrong.

"I blinked a little bit and it just took me a little longer than I'd hoped to recover from it," said Clark, who fell 6-1, 2-6, 1-6 in Thursday's quarterfinals of the Fighting Illini Open at Atkins Tennis Center.

So, keeping that in mind, what does Clark take away from his first brush with a champion?

"Especially in the first set, I think I really did prove myself in that I can hang with and beat that caliber of player," Clark said. "I have lots of respect for him ... but I was able to put that aside and play my game in that first set."

Clark handily won the first set before Chrysochos clapped back in the second and rode the momentum to the finish to knock out the last of the six players with Illini ties who competed in the ITA event.

"I thought he did a great job coming out (Thursday), trying to play the tactics he and I had set up," Illinois coach Brad Dancer said. "Again, he maybe just blinked a little bit."

Dancer values the unimpeded time he get to spend working with his players, as NCAA restrictions take effect once they return to campus in the fall.

In the case of Clark, Dancer said he is trying to develop him into a more offensive, controlling player who can better hold position on the court.

Another opportunity is right around the corner for Clark, who will compete in next week's USTA Ursula Beck Pro Tennis Classic when it kicks off on Tuesday at Fairview Park Tennis Complex in Decatur.

Sections (3):Illini Sports, Sports, Tennis