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Big Red Upset Illini, Advance to Big Ten Semifinals – University of Nebraska

Evanston, Ill. – For the first time in program history, the #59 Nebraska men’s tennis team (17-9, 5-4 Big Ten) is headed to the Big Ten semifinals. The Big Red claimed a 4-2 upset win over #26 Illinois (16-9, 6-3 Big Ten) on Friday afternoon, to reach a program record of most single-season wins since 1990, and earn its second-ever victory over the Illini. The Huskers did not hesitate after dropping the doubles point, and with four singles wins, survive and advance.

The conference tournament quarterfinal matchup began with doubles at the Vandy Christie Tennis Center. At No. 1 doubles, Anton Shepp and senior Nic Wiedenhorn faced nationally ranked #43 Lucas Horve and Oliver Okonkwo. The Big Red duo battled from an early deficit, but fell to the Illini, 4-6. Next to finish was Court Two, where Calvin Mueller and Lars Johann rallied in their matchup against Mathis Debru and Kneta Miyoshi. The Husker duo were defeated, 7-5, and the Illini secured the doubles point. At No. 3 doubles, Leo Linquet and senior Shunya Maryama were in a tiebreaker against Hunter Heck and Alex Petrov, but the match was left unfinished at 6(1)-6(1). 

After dropping the doubles point, four Huskers took their first sets. Shepp’s match was the first to finish, tying the match with a dominant 6-4, 6-2, victory over #99 Miyoshi at No. 2 singles. On Court Four, Johann battled, but fell to Fighting Illini senior Okonkwo, 4-6, 4-6. At No. 5 singles, Linquet faced Tyler Bowers, and took him down in three sets, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. Court One was an All-Big Ten First Team matchup, between #80 Calvin Mueller and #42 Hunter Heck. Mueller had a tough start, being down 4-6, 2-5, in the second set. The junior rallied to have a dominant finish, claiming a 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2, comeback upset win to put the Big Red in the lead. The final two matches proved to be tight, both going to third sets to decide the tournament fates of Nebraska and Illinois. Maruyama faced Petrov in the No. 3 singles slot and rallied to defeat the Illini 7-6(2), 6(2)-7, 6-4, winning the match for the Big Red. Court Six was abandoned, as Rudi Christiansen and Debru were in a close match, left at 6-4, 6(2)-7, 6(6)-6(6). The Huskers won the quarterfinal match, 4-2. 

With the victory, the Big Red improved its season record to 17-9 (6-4 Big Ten). By defeating the Fighting Illini for only the second time in series history, the Huskers claimed their 17th win of the season, a program record since 1990. Nebraska will advance to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals, for the first time in program history.

Mueller’s comeback upset win at No. 1 singles was his sixth ranked win, holding a perfect 6-0 record against ranked conference opponents. Defeating Heck also notched the junior’s 27th singles win of the season, to pass Toby Boyer and claim fifth place on the single-season victories record list. When clinching the match, Maruyama also earned his 20th singles win of the season, and 70th of his career, on Court Three, while snapping Pretrov’s six-win streak. Shepp also broke a streak, of seven, for Miyoshi, in the junior’s second ranked straight-set win of the season.

Up next, the Huskers stick around in Evanston, Ill., for the Big Ten Tournament semifinals. The Big Red will take on No. 1 Ohio State on Saturday, April 27, with first serve set for 11 a.m. (CT). Live stats will be available on, as well as live updates and content posted on X/Twitter at @HuskerMTennis.

#59 Nebraska 4, #26 Illinois 2

Singles competition
1. #80 Calvin Mueller (NEB) def. #42 Hunter Heck (ILL) 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2
2. Anton Shepp (NEB) def. #99 Kenta Miyoshi (ILL) 6-4, 6-2
3. Shunya Maruyama (NEB) def. Alex Petrov (ILL) 7-6 (7-2), 6-7 (2-7), 6-4
4. Oliver Okonkwo (ILL) def. Lars Johann (NEB) 6-4, 6-4
5. Leo Linquet (NEB) def. Tyler Bowers (ILL) 6-4, 2-6, 6-4
6. Mathis Debru (ILL) vs. Rudi Christiansen (NEB) 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-6 (6-6), unfinished

Doubles competition
1. #43 Lucas Horve/Oliver Okonkwo (ILL) def. Nic Wiedenhorn/Anton Shepp (NEB) 6-4
2. Mathis Debru/Kenta Miyoshi (ILL) def. Calvin Mueller/Lars Johann (NEB) 7-5
3. Hunter Heck/Alex Petrov (ILL) vs. Leo Linquet/Shunya Maruyama (NEB) 6-6 (1-1), unfinished

Match Notes:
Nebraska 17-9; National ranking #59
Illinois 16-9; National ranking #26
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (2,4,5,1,3)

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