#22 Illini Knock Off Undefeated #8 Texas A&M, 4-1
Feb. 7, 2014
URBANA, Ill. - The #22 Illini knocked off the #8 Texas A&M Aggies in a thrilling finish Friday night at the Atkins Tennis Center, claiming four straight singles victories after dropping the doubles point. Thus, Illinois has defeated #16 Notre Dame and #8 Texas A&M in a span of three days, and will look to earn the sweep Sunday vs. #10 Texas.
"It's a good win for a tough group of guys," said Illinois head coach Brad Dancer. "I'm really excited for our guys. I've said all year long, we got a gritty group. They may not be the prettiest tennis players but we play with a lot of heart and play with a lot of fight and I think everybody saw that tonight."
The doubles point eluded the Orange and Blue once again, dropping the opening decision for the second time this week. Despite the fact, the newly formed team of Farris Gosea and Jared Hiltzik emerged with a 6-3 match victory on court two.
Therefore, the Illini came out of the break determined to set the tone in singles competition, and that's exactly what happened. Illinois showed their fight claiming two quick straight set victories to swing the score in their favor.
No. 46 Tim Kopinski secured the first point for the Illini with a 6-1, 6-3 upset of No. 13 Jeremy Efferding on court three. No.4 Jared Hiltzik shortly followed suit with a straight set victory defeating No. 38 Shane Visant 6-3, 6-2 on court one.
With momentum and the lead, the Illini imposed their will on the Aggies in front of a raucous home crowd. The final two points didn't come easily for the Illini, as the Aggies fought to stretch out several matches into a third set. In a thrilling finish, the Illini secured the match victory with two consecutive tiebreak set victories.
Farris Gosea secured the first tiebreak set victory edging out #19 Harrison Adams in 7-5 second set tiebreak. Gosea defeated Adams 6-3, 6-5 (7-5) on court two. Just as the Illini earned their third point, Blake Bazarnik was battling to secure a straight set victory of his own and the Illini victory. Down 5-4 to Jackson Withrow on court five, Bazarnik pushed the set to a tiebreak keeping the immediate hopes of an Illini victory alive. Despite a 5-3 tiebreak lead in favor of Bazarnik, Withrow rallied to even the tiebreak at 5-5. With neither giving up any ground, the dramatic tiebreak set wasn't resolved until Bazarnik claimed two straight points to win 9-7.
Despite ending the competition early after Bazarnik secured the victory, the Illini faired pretty well in the other two matches that went unfinished. Brian Page was in the middle of his own second set tiebreaker, working to extend his match to three sets. When play finished, Page was down 4-6, 5-5 (4-4) to Junior Ore on court 4. On court 5, Ross Guignon was up 6-4, 4-5 on Max Lunkin.
Up next, The Illini will look to defeat their third straight undefeated and top-20 ranked foe as they host the No. 10 Longhorns Sunday at 12:00 pm CT at the Atkins Tennis Center.
No. 2 -- Gosea / Hiltzik (ILL) def. Adams / Vinsant (TAMU), 6-3
No. 3 -- # 20 Efferding / Szabo (TAMU) def. Page / Jesse (ILL), 6-2
No. 2 -- #106 Farris Gosea (ILL) def. #19 Adams (TAMU), 6-3, 6-5(5)
No. 3 -- #46 Tim Kopinski (ILL) def. #13 Efferding (TAMU), 6-1, 6-3
No. 4 - Brian Page (ILL) vs. Ore (TAMU), 4-6, 5-5 (4-4), unfinished
No. 5 - Blake Bazarnik (ILL) def. Withrow (TAMU), 6-4, 6-5(7)
No. 6 -- Ross Guignon (ILL) vs. Lunkin (TAMU), 6-4, 4-5, unfinished