#22 Illinois Advances to ITA Kickoff Final
Jan. 25, 2014
OXFORD, Miss. - The #22 Illinois men's tennis team debuted Saturday afternoon with a big statement over #25 Clemson inside the Gillom Sports Complex in Oxford, Miss. The Fighting Illini swept the Tigers 4-0 and are now one win away on this ITA Kickoff weekend from advancing to the National Indoor Championships in Houston, Texas.
The Orange and Blue got off to good start, utilizing its three ranked doubles teams to seize the early 1-0 lead. #31 Jared Hiltzik and Alex Jesse led the way, cruising to a 6-0 win over Daniel Strawn and Zachary Kennedy.
#27 Farris Gosea and Blake Bazarnik then clinched the doubles point for the Illini, downing Alejandro Augusto and Robert Dudley by the score of 6-4. #4 Tim Kopinski's and Ross Guignon's match thus ended before completion. The Illinois duo were down 5-3 but rallied to tie it 5-5 before the match was stopped against Hunter Harrington and Dominique Maden.
Playing just three courts at a time, Illinois and Clemson sent out their top three players in their respective lineups to start singles play, and that was all the Illini needed for the win. #46 Tim Kopinski in the No. 3 position finished first with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Augusto.
#4 Jared Hiltzik clinched his match next vs. Harrington. After a dominant 6-0 first set, the sophomore grinded out a second set tiebreak win by the score of 6-5(6).
Next, #106 Farris Gosea completed the sweep with a victory over Maden in the No. 2 position. The junior took the first set 6-2 before coasting to a 6-0 second set victory.
"In singles, I thought Jared played really sharp," said Illinois head coach Brad Dancer. "Hunter is a good player who competed better in the second set and frustrated him a little bit. Farris did a great job of playing highly physical and controlling the tempo. Tim made some mistakes early on, but then settled down and by the end of the match really controlled his tempo a lot better. We'll be ready for Michigan tomorrow."
A familiar foe now stands in the way of the current crop of Illini qualifying for the team Indoor Championships for the first time in their careers. If the Illini are to make it to Houston, they will have to go through #26 Michigan. The Big Ten clash is scheduled for 1 p.m. CT on Sunday.
No. 2 -- #27 Gosea / Bazarnik (ILL) def. Augusto / Dudley (CLEM), 6-4
No. 3 -- #31 Hiltzik / Jesse (ILL) def. Strawn / Kennedy (CLEM), 6-0
No. 2 -- #106 Farris Gosea (ILL) def. Dominique Maden (CLEM), 6-2, 6-0
No. 3 -- #46 Tim Kopinski (ILL) def. Alejandro Augusto (CLEM), 6-2, 6-3