Tennis season ends one match short of goal
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The chance to play in front of its home fans at least one more time didn’t come to fruition for the Illinois men’s tennis team.
The Illini saw their season close following a 4-1 loss to Vanderbilt on Saturday in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
A win and Illinois would have advanced to the round of 16 for the third straight year.
More important, it would have let the Illini play on their home court because the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex and Atkins Tennis Center host the NCAA Championships starting Thursday.
“We fought back really well (Saturday) and got ourselves back into the match but just dug ourselves a massive hole that we almost clawed back out of,” Illinois coach Brad Dancer said. “Credit Vandy. I think they did good things in certain spots, but we mostly shot ourselves in the foot a little bit. We blew a good opportunity, so that’s on us, and we’ll have to do better.”
Illinois (17-11) only won a lone singles match after Alex Jesse picked up a 7-5, 6-0 victory at the No. 5 spot. Vanderbilt (18-10) won the doubles point after its No. 1 and No. 3 tandems emerged with wins. The Commodores — who earned their first victory against Illinois in the fifth match between the schools — closed out the match when Rhys Johnson beat Ross Guignon 6-3, 6-3 at No. 6 singles.