Illini Bounce Back with Swift Win Over Pepperdine
Feb. 15, 2014
HOUSTON, Texas – The Illini men's tennis team's run toward a national indoor championship may have been cut short yesterday by Oklahoma, but it didn't mean the Orange and Blue squad couldn't pick up quality wins via the consolation bracket. The 22nd ranked and 10th-seeded Illini (6-3) produced a 4-0 shutout over the 15th ranked and seeded Pepperdine (4-3). It marked the Illini's second shutout of the season.
"Today our guys showed how much they love this game," said Illinois head coach Brad Dancer. "Yesterday was a punch in the gut in terms of how bad it hurt our team. I made a coaching mistake that probably cost us the match so it was going to be interesting to see how the guys responded. In addition, Pepperdine is here playing with house money so we felt pressure. Brian Page was the man of the day. He has played really well for a couple of weeks now and hasn't gotten over the hump so to see him lead the charge with big serves and returns to take the doubles and then he just kept the gas on the whole singles match. Proud of our guys for the competitive zeal they displayed. We will have another great challenge tomorrow, whether it is Texas A&M or Tennessee."
Illinois started its morning by winning its second straight doubles point at the National Indoor Championships. The Illini were once again spearheaded by the fifth ranked doubles team of Tim Kopinski and Ross Guignon. The duo quickly dispatched Alex Sarkissian and Francis Alcantara 6-2. The victory was the pair's third straight win.
After Jared Hiltzik and Farris Gosea fell to David Sofaer and Tom Hill 6-2, the doubles point came down to Brian Page and Julian Childers. Next, this newly paired Illinois duo prevailed in a tiebreak 6-5(6) and won their first doubles dual match together this season.
Sophomore Brian Page extended the lead to 2-0 when he picked up the first singles victory of the morning. Page delivered a swift 6-1, 6-2, win over Stefan Menichella, earning his second dual match victory of the season.
No. 24 Tim Kopinski followed up next with a win over Francis Alcantara in No. 3 singles, coming from behind in both sets. Down 3-1 in the first set, Kopinski tallied five straight games to take it 6-3. Then, down 2-1 in the second set, Kopinski rattled off five straight again to push the score to 3-0 Illinois.
Ross Guignon then finished it out for the Orange and Blue with yet another strong singles performance on the day, defeating Tom Hill, 6-2, 6-1. Thus, Guignon remains unblemished in both singles and doubles through two matches in Houston.
In unfinished singles action, No. 8 Jared Hiltzik was poised for a ranked victory over No. 36 Alex Sarkissian. Hiltzik was up 6-2, 4-3 when the match was stopped. No. 30 Farris Gosea was also closing in on No. 116 David Sofaer, up 6-3, 4-2. Finally, Blake Bazarnik won his first 6-4 vs. Pedro Leme and was down 2-1 in the second set.
Illinois will play once more in the consolation bracket on Sunday at 2 p.m. inside the Galleria Tennis and Athletic Club. They will play Texas A&M in a rematch from last week.
No. 2 -- Sofaer / Hill (PEPP) def. Hiltzik / Gosea (ILL), 6-2
No. 3 -- Page / Childers (ILL) def. Giannini / Leme (PEPP), 6-5(6)
No. 2 -- #30 Farris Gosea (ILL) vs. #116 David Sofaer (PEPP), 6-3, 4-2, unfinished
No. 3 -- #24 Tim Kopinski (ILL) def. Francis Alcantara (PEPP), 6-3, 6-2
No. 4 – Brian Page (ILL) def. Stefan Menichella (PEPP), 6-1, 6-2
No. 5 – Blake Bazarnik (ILL) vs. Pedro Leme (PEPP), 6-4, 1-2, unfinished
No. 6 -- Ross Guignon (ILL) def. Tom Hill (PEPP), 6-2, 6-1