Illini fail to derail Buckeyes
EAST LANGSING, Mich. — Hosting an NCAA tournament match isn’t a guarantee for the Illinois men’s tennis team.
Then again, Illinois coach Brad Dancer and his team have put themselves in good position when it comes to the possibility of that based on a strong regular season and solid showing at the Big Ten tournament.
Even if Illinois didn’t clinch an automatic spot in the upcoming bracket after losing 4-2 on Sunday to powerhouse Ohio State in the Big Ten tournament championship match.
Illinois, ranked 10th in the country, should find themselves with an at-large berth on Tuesday evening when pairings are announced.
If the scenario happens — which is likely — it would give Illinois its 19th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.
“All the big championships (went) down this weekend, so there was quite a bit of jockeying for positioning with the seeding,” Dancer said. “If we (would have won), it would kind of depend on the teams we played that would help us.”
The top two teams in the Big Ten met Sunday, but Illinois was only able to record wins from Jared Hiltzik and Faris Gosea in singles play after losing the doubles point.
Despite the loss on Sunday, Illinois could find itself at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex sometime between May 9-11 when the first and second rounds take place.
“All we’re focused on is ourselves, and we’ll let the seedings take care of themselves,” Dancer said. “We’ve got a great chance of hosting the first two rounds.”