Illini Tennis Defeats Ball State in NCAA First Round
(U of I Release)
URBANA, Ill. - The Fighting Illini men's tennis team remained undefeated in first round action of the NCAA Tournament with a 4-0 shutout over Ball State, moving to 16-0 since the tournament opened to a 64-team field in 1999. As a result of the Orange and Blue earning its 19th straight victory over Ball State, the Illini will now meet No. 22 Memphis on Saturday at 3 p.m. CT.
Illinois won its 16th doubles point of the season thanks to the efforts on courts one and three. Down 3-4, the fifth ranked team of Tim Kopinski and Ross Guignon won the next five games to take it 8-4. Next, with a 5-2 lead that dwindled to 5-4, Bazarnik/Jesse staved off a surging Lucas Andersen and Matt Helm to take it 8-6 and clinch the doubles point.
In singles, the Illini only needed just over an hour to dispatch the Cardinals and shut them out for the second time this year. Ross Guignon was the first to wrap up, defeating Andrew Stutz 6-1, 6-3.
"Guignon came out and had a great start," stated Illinois head coach Brad Dancer. "Lost track of his positioning on the court as the match progressed but Kopinski and Guignon really led the charge today."
Then, No. 8 Hiltzik and No. 63 Kopinski clinched the match as quickly as the lightning struck that delayed the start of singles. Hiltzik earned a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Ray Leonard on his way to winning his 10th consecutive match, while Kopinski followed with a 6-1, 6-2 victory vs. Lucas Andersen.
"Biggest positive of the day was Kopinski and the way he played his match," added Dancer. "He was back to his physical self and he transitioned a little more than he has been. He was looking for that, so his offense and defense was better today."
Furthermore, Illinois had won all of its first sets in the three matches that went unfinished. Gosea was trying to earn his 13th straight win when his match was stopped at 6-1, 3-4. Blake Bazarnik was closing in on victory over Austin Smith up 6-3, 3-1. Finally, Alex Jesse was up 6-3, 2-1 in No. 5 singles over Patrick Downs.
Illinois moved to 23-8 on the year and an impressive 12-0 at home. They'll battle a 15-5 Tigers squad for the right to go to the NCAA Championships in Athens, Ga. next Thursday. Earlier in the day, Memphis grinded out a 4-3 win over Drake in a match that went four hours.
Friday, May 9 2014, 11:02 PM CDT