champiThe University of Minnesota men's tennis team hosts the nation's top-ranked team, Illinois, Saturday, March 13, in a potentially- historical dual match. Illinois, the defending Big Ten and NCAA champion, is currently on an NCAA record-tying 45-match win streak. With a win over the No. 36 Golden Gophers, Illinois would break Stanford's national record. The Cardinal set the mark from 1997-99 before UI snapped the streak at the National Indoor Championships.
The match is set for 6:30 p.m., on Saturday at the Baseline Tennis Center on the campus of the University of Minnesota. Admission is free. If Illinois defeats the Maroon and Gold Saturday night, it would be the longest streak since the NCAA introduced a team tournament to the championship format in 1977 (Miami's [Fla.] 137 matches in a row from 1957-64 is the all- time mark).
Minnesota has had an up-and-down early portion of the season and heads into the match vs. Illinois with one win in its last four duals. The Golden Gophers, 4-4 overall and 1-0 in the Big Ten, are the third-highest ranked conference team behind Illinois and No. 12 Ohio State. The Maroon and Gold boasts two ranked singles players in No. 66 Aleksey Zharinov, a 2003 All-Big Ten performer, and No. 89 Chris Wettengel, the 2003 Big Ten Singles Champion. Minnesota's top doubles team of Avery Ticer and Clay Estes is ranked No. 46 in the nation.
Illinois, meanwhile, is undefeated with a 13-0 overall record and a 1- 0 mark in Big Ten play. UI is one of only three teams still unbeaten in this spring's dual-match season. Illinois has four players ranked in the national top 100 - No. 4 Brian Wilsin, No. 29 Phil Stolt, No. 67 Chris Martin and No. 87 Ryler DeHeart. The duo of Wilson and Stolt is ranked No. 3 in the nation, while Michael Calkins and Martin are ranked 33rd.
Last season, Illinois went 2-0 vs. the Golden Gophers, winning 7-0 during the regular season and 4-1 in the Big Ten Finals.