The Fighting Illini men's tennis team swept the Drake Bulldogs, 4-0 on Friday morning in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Illinois improves to 45-20 all-time in NCAA matches and 3-0 against the Bulldogs. Three Illinois freshmen, Aleks Kovacevic, Noe Khlif and Gui Gomes led the way on the singles courts to earn the Orange and Blue a berth in the NCAA Second Round.
Illinois earned an early advantage in the match after a gritty effort on the doubles courts. After the Bulldogs took the first match on court two, Gomes and junior Aron Hiltzik responded with a 6-4 win over Stride and Wood on court three. The point came down to a tiebreak on one with senior Alex Jesse and Kovacevic battling Philips and Thorold for the point. The duo took the point with a 7-2 tiebreak win.
In singles action, a trio of freshmen clinched the Illinois sweep. Kovacevic was first off the court with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Bayo Phillips 6-2, 6-4 at the No. 3 position. Noe Khlif was next off the court after defeating Calum MacGeoch on court four, 6-3, 6-4. Gomes clinched the match for the Orange and Blue after a gritty 7-6, 7-5 win on court two.