10th-Seeded Illini Drop 4-3 Heartbreaker to 7th-Seeded Oklahoma
Feb. 14, 2014
HOUSTON, Texas - The 10th-seeded Illini men's tennis team (5-3) put up a valiant fight against seventh-seeded Oklahoma (7-0) Friday morning, but ultimately dropped a 4-3 heartbreaker to the Sooners inside the Downtown Club at the Met in Houston. Illinois gained an early lead by claiming the doubles point and was up 3-2 late in the match, but Oklahoma's top-four proved too strong in singles.
"Our team continues to be great fighters," said Illinois head coach Brad Dancer. Oklahoma is a good team and we didn't capitalize on moments when we had momentum and you have to give them credit."
The fifth ranked doubles team of Tim Kopinski and Ross Guginon continued to roll this spring, defeating No. 12 Andrew Harris and Dane Webb 6-1. Thus, Kopinski/Guignon have only surrendered just four games combined in their last three wins over top-25 ranked doubles teams.
The recently formed team of Jared Hiltzik and Farris Gosea gelled very well today, knocking off Axel Alvarez Llamas and Guillermo Alcorta 6-3. Today's doubles success marked the Illini's first 1-0 early advantage since the season opener vs. Clemson.
Ross Guignon then carried his doubles momentum into singles where he faced off with Austin Siegel in the No. 6 position. After successfully claiming a hard fought first set 6-5(3), the junior dominated the second set 6-0 to extend the squad's lead to 2-0.
The next match to end was No. 24 Tim Kopinski vs. No. 28 Andrew Harris in the No. 3 spot. Down 4-0 in the first set, the reigning Big Ten Tennis Athlete of the Week rallied to cut it to 5-4, but Andrews was able to close out 6-4. The second set was a back and forth affair the entire way, until Harris got the upper hand in the tiebreak 6-5(3).
No. 30 Farris Gosea had his hands full with No. 4 Axel Alvarez Llamas in No. 2 singles. After dropping the first set 6-4, Gosea hung tough in the second set, forcing a tiebreak. In the end, Llamas prevailed 6-5(6) to tie the overall match at two.
Blake Bazarnik captured the momentum back to the Illini's side after defeating Alex Ghilea 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 in the No. 5 slot, thus putting Illinois one point away from advancing.
All eyes then turned to court one where two top-10 players in No. 8 Jared Hiltzik and No. 2 Guillermo Alcorta were putting on a great match for the tennis fans in attendance. The match hung in the balance after Hiltzik lost the first set 6-3 and found himself down 5-3 in the second. The sophomore then rallied, breaking serve, winning the next two games and then taking the tiebreak 6-5(2) to force a third set.
Later on in the third, the score was tied at four-all. The undefeated Alcorta broke Jared's serve then closed out the match as No. 46 Dane Webb knocked off Brian Page 5-6(7), 6-4, 6-2 simultaneously.
"At the top three positions, each of our guys were in holes but got back to having control of point tempo," Dancer said. "That was critical and will be important for them to remember."
The Orange and Blue will now move into the consolation bracket where they'll await the loser of the No. 2 seed UCLA vs. 15-seed Pepperdine match. Illinois will play that match at 9 a.m. CT Saturday at the Galleria Tennis and Athletic Club (GTAC).
No. 2 -- Hiltzik / Gosea (ILL) def. Llamas / Alcorta (OU), 6-3
No. 3 -- Papac / Siributwong (OU) vs. Page / Childers (ILL), 4-3, unfinished
No. 2 -- #4 Axel Alvarez Llamas (OU) def. #30 Farris Gosea (ILL), 6-4, 6-5(6)
No. 3 -- #28 Andrew Harris (OU) def. #24 Tim Kopinski (ILL), 6-4, 6-5(3)
No. 4 - #46 Dane Webb (OU) def. Brian Page (ILL), 5-6(7), 6-4, 6-2
No. 5 - Blake Bazarnik (ILL) def. Alex Ghilea (OU), 4-6, 6-1, 6-2
No. 6 -- Ross Guignon (ILL) def. Austin Siegel (OU), 6-5(3), 6-0