No. 12 Illini Fall at No. 5 Tennessee, 6-1
Feb. 7, 2010
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Junior Abe Souza won his eighth straight singles match, but it wasn't enough, as the No. 12 Illini men's tennis team (3-2) came up short at No. 5 Tennessee (7-0), 6-1 Sunday afternoon at Goodfriend Tennis Center. The match served as a preview for next Friday's contest at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, as Illinois drew the Volunteers in the round of 16.
"Hats off to Tennessee, they played great without their No. 1 player (John-Patrick Smith) and had great energy right from the start in doubles," head coach Brad Dancer said. "It's a tall task to face them when they're defending their home turf. I thought our energy was good in doubles, but we lacked some execution that hurt us. In singles, I have to give Tennessee a lot of credit, because they got off to strong starts at the Nos. 1-3 positions and put us in a hole quickly. We fought hard to get back into it, even when we were down 3-0. I think overall, we're hungry to be an elite team. I know they're doing everything they can to be an elite team. We'll sit down with the guys before next week and talk about how to fix the little things."
The Volunteers wasted no time jumping on the scoreboard, as they swept all three doubles matches to take a quick 1-0 advantage, before clinching the match with straight-set victories at Nos. 1-3 singles. Souza prevented the shutout with his team-leading 14th victory of the season, defeating Matteo Fago, 7-5, 6-4.
Illinois' rematch with Tennessee is set for Friday, Feb. 12 at 2 p.m. CT in Charlottesville, Va. For more information on the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, including the complete tournament draw, click HERE.
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1), Singles (2,3,1,4,6,5)