#22 Illini Start Homestand with 5-2 Win Over #16 Notre Dame
Feb. 5, 2014
URBANA, Ill. – The #22 Fighting Illini men's tennis team kicked off its three match home stand in style Wednesday night inside the Atkins Tennis Center. Despite dropping the doubles point and falling into an early 1-0 hole, the Orange and Blue rallied behind solid singles play as they took the first four singles matches to clinch the 5-2 upset over #16 Notre Dame.
"Pleased with the win tonight. A really gritty effort by our guys," said Illinois head coach Brad Dancer. "We've got one doubles team that is doing outstanding in Guignon and Kopinski. I was really pleased with the tones they set for the team. We got to get figure out a means to get the other two teams playing with the same enthusiasm and energy."
"Going into singles, really a rough start for us," continued Dancer. "I think our guys are young and have been kicked around a little bit early on here. Tonight was a night we gutted up, toughed it out and turned the match fairly quickly. I love the way we played once we were ahead."
Then the junior pairing both collected straight set singles victories. Guignon endured a back and forth first set with Lawson, prevailing in the tiebreak 6-5(5). Then the Kansas native cruised to a 6-0 second set to add a point to the Illini's team total. #46 Kopinski followed suit and was the fourth decisive point for Illinois, defeating Josh Hagar in the No. 3 position, 6-4, 6-3.
However, credit goes to Jared Hiltzik and Farris Gosea for creating a huge wave of momentum in singles for the Illini. #4 Hiltzik battled #22 Andrews in the No.1 position. Down 3-1 in the first set, Hiltzik climbed back into the match, taking the first set 6-5(1). Once settled in, Hiltzik finished off Andrews with a 6-2 second set and produced the Illini's first point of the contest.
Merely seconds later, #106 Gosea put the Illini out in front, 2-1. With the score tied 3-3 in the first set, Gosea went on to win the next nine of ten games, defeating Ryan Bandy 6-3, 6-1.
Illinois received its fifth and final point from Blake Bazarnik. After dropping the first set 6-1 to Eddy Covalschi, the junior stormed back and took the second set 6-3. With the team portion of the match already clinched, Bazarnik and Covalschi played a super tiebreak third set. Down 8-6 at one point, Bazarnik rallied and took the set 10-8.
The #22 Illini move to 3-2 on the young season as they handed #16 Notre Dame its first loss of the year, now 6-1. The Orange and Blue will look to garner another upset and blemish another undefeated record when #8 Texas A&M (6-0) comes into town for a match this Friday at 6 p.m. CT.
No. 2 -- Pecor / Hagar (ND) def. #27 Gosea / Bazarnik (ILL), 6-4
No. 3 -- Schnurrenberger / Bandy (ND) def. #31 Hiltzik / Jesse (ILL), 6-1
No. 2 -- #106 Farris Gosea (ILL) def. Ryan Bandy (ND), 6-3, 6-1
No. 3 -- #46 Tim Kopinski (ILL) def. Josh Hagar (ND), 6-4, 6-3
No. 4 -- Blake Bazarnik (ILL) def. Eddy Covalschi (ND), 1-6, 6-3, 10-8
No. 5 -- Eric Schnurrenberger (ND) def. Brian Page (ILL), 5-6(4), 6-4, 10-5
No. 6 -- Ross Guignon (ILL) def. Alex Lawson (ND), 6-5(5), 6-0