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Illinois Men's Tennis advances to Sweet 16

The Illini took care of business on their way to rematch against TCU.

That's the kind of weekend you want to see.

Illinois dominated this weekend over Marquette and Vanderbilt on its way to the Sweet 16 and solidified itself as a contender for the NCAA championship in the process.

Granted, for Illinois it's come fairly easy for them at home. They won't have that luxury in the next few rounds.

That being said, however, it was as impressive a showing as the fans of Illinois could have asked for in the first and second round.

It all started against Big East champions, the Marquette Golden Eagles. The Illini took the doubles point in dominating fashion, as Aleks Vukic and sophomore Vuk Budic rolled to a 6-1 victory. It was Aron Hiltzik and Aleks Kovacevic who clinched the point with a 6-3 win at the No. 2 position.

Then it was time for singles, and Illinois was no less impressive in that facet of the match, as Zeke Clark won his 12th straight singles match in convincing fashion, 6-0, 6-1 over Marquette's Brett Meyers. That all culminated in freshman Caleb Chakravarthi clinching match victory 6-0, 6-3.

The win also gave head coach Brad Dancer his 275th match victory as the coach of Illinois, surpassing Craig Tiley as the Illini's all-time winningest head coach.

And it happened with such relative ease. Illinois was in its element at home and certainly found a rhythm as the matches progressed all weekend. It was refreshing to watch an Illini team dominate so thoroughly.

That fantastic play continued in the Round of 32 against the Vanderbilt Commodores. It started off with some stiff competition in doubles play for Hiltzik and Kovacevic, but they ended up coming from behind to take the doubles point and put Illinois on the board first.

Then, as singles began, the Illini found their groove as it was all downhill from there. Zeke Clark, Kovacevic and Aleks Vukic made short work of their competition and finished off another sweep 4-0.

Again, it was more home cooking as Illinois made it look all too easy against a quality opponent.

Now, Illinois faces the daunting task of traveling to the campus of Wake Forest in a rematch of last year's season-ending loss to the TCU Horned Frogs in the Round of 16.

It should be a fun matchup, and with the momentum they played with this weekend, don't be surprised if Illinois makes some noise starting this Friday at 3 p.m.