Abdelnour provided a crucial victory for the Illini against Ball State, winning a thriling three set match.
Jan. 19, 2013
CARMEL, Ind. - The No. 16 Fighting Illini men's tennis squad started the 2013 dual meet season on the right note, earning victories in both their matches today against Toledo and Ball State. Early in the afternoon, Illinois downed Toledo 83-42 in Indianapolis under unique rules designed by the coaching staffs. Then, the Orange and Blue traveled to Carmel where they defeated Ball State 4-3.
The experimental format was based on cumulative scoring, putting emphasis on winning every game. In addition, substitutions were allowed, though once a player exited, he could not return to the match. Four doubles matches were played as well as six singles matches, which was played to 10 games. The team who scored the most cumulative games at the end was announced the winner.
The Illini started strong, sweeping all four doubles matches, thus adding the maximum 24 points to the team's overall score. Farris Gosea and Alex Jesse won 6-1 in the one spot over Tomas Stillman and Nicholas Wong. Brian Page and Ross Guignon teamed up to down Bryant Dudzik and Terence Weigand 6-5 in the two spot, while Bruno Abdelnour and Stephen Hoh triumphed 6-3 over Grant Adams and Ryan Jorgensen at the three. Finally, Jared Hiltzik and Julian Childers won 6-3 at the four.
At the top two spots in singles play, Illinois defeated Stillman 10-5, while Grant Adams returned the favor, winning 10-9 against the Orange and Blue. At the three, Jared Hiltzik won 10-8 over Wong. Ross Guignon provided the best margin of victory for the Illini at the four, beating Toledo 10-1. Finally, Gosea defeated Weigand 10-4 at the five as Page finished with a 10-2 victory over the Rockets.
"Tremendous excitement with the different format today," said Illinois head coach Brad Dancer. "A very healthy and energetic environment for college tennis was on display. I hope to try it again down the road."
Illinois earned their first come from behind victory early in the season in Carmel against Ball State. The Cardinals put the Illini down early earning the doubles point to start the match. Cliff Morrison and Pat Elliot downed Page and Hiltzik 8-3. Then Alex Brym and Imanol Arconada defeated Guignon and Abdelnour 8-5.
However, the Orange and Blue fought back in singles competition, after Ray Leonard halted Stephen Hoh 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, in the one spot. Freshman Jared Hiltzik gave the Illini a much needed boost in the two slot, beating Cliff Morrison 7-5, 6-2. Bruno Abdelnour fueled the victory in the three spot, earning a hard fought victory over Dalton Albertin, 4-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(1). Gosea cruised to victory in the four, downing Arconada 6-1, 6-0. Guignon followed suit at the five, earning a point after beating Austin Smith 6-3, 6-3. Finally, at the six, Pat Elliot won 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7) over Page.
"Ball State is always well coached," said Dancer. "The Cardinals took it to us in doubles. Then, Bruno never got comfortable in his match, never was able to get settled in and play his game. Ball State pushed him to the brink but he kept his composure and got us over the hump today. Farris also did a good job of locking in his focus. I was very pleased with his effort."
Up next, the Illini return to Urbana for the home-opener as they welcome Tennessee, North Carolina and Tulsa in the ITA Kick-off Weekend starting on Friday, Jan. 25, at 6 p.m. CT.