Well, great things don't always last, especially when you're competing against the No. 3 team in the nation, and trying to continue an impressive 7-match win streak on the road.
Unfortunately, Illinois were — to borrow a phrase from the incomparable Jim Carrey —outmatched, out-coiffed and generally outdone in every way on Saturday against the Ohio State Buckeyes.
It started in the doubles matches, where the tandem of JJ Wolfe and Martin Joyce of Ohio State easily dispatched their counterparts Aron Hiltzik and Aleks Vukic of Illinois by a score of 6-2. After match 2 went unfinished, Court 3 saw Ohio State fly by Alex Brown and Caleb Chakravarthi by an identical 6-2 win.
Weather played a part shortly after as rain forced the match indoors, where Illinois fared no better as the No. 4 player in the country, Mikael Torpegaard of Ohio State, dismantled the equally-talented-but-had-an-off-day No. 15 Aleks Vukic 6-1, 6-2.
It snowballed from there, ending in the game winner from Martin Joyce over Chakravarthi in the 6-3, 6-4 match sealing win.
This is a National Championship contending Buckeye squad who have only lost 2 matches overall and are unbeaten in conference play. There's no shame in losing to that. The uncompetitive nature of each loss is what was so disconcerting for the Illini.
However, it wasn't all doom and gloom, as the Illini came right back on Sunday to impose their will on Penn State in their own 4-0 victory.
This contest was in little doubt from the get go, as the doubles matchups dominated, and the first 4 singles matchups — from Vukic in the first to Alex Brown with the clincher — breezed through their Penn State competition.
The Illini are now 17-6 overall and 8-1 in conference play. They might not catch Ohio State for the Big Ten title, but this team is good enough to make some noise on the national stage.
They'll be back at it on Friday at home against Wisconsin at 3 p.m.