Senior Dennis Nevolo captured wins at the top spot in doubles and singles on Friday.
March 9, 2012
EVANSTON, Ill. - The Fighting Illini men's tennis team took down in-state foe Northwestern, 5-2, Friday night at Combe Tennis Center, marking Illinois' third straight victory. With the win, the Illini improve to 8-3 overall and 3-0 in the Big Ten, while Northwestern falls to 7-6 overall and 0-1 in conference play.
"Dennis Nevolo really showed great leadership out there tonight," Illini head coach Brad Dancer said. "He really took over in doubles and set the tone. I think we got off to our great start because of the way he carried himself and fought at the No. 1 spot alongside Roy (Kalmanovich)."
The Illini captured their third straight doubles point and sixth overall. Freshman Farris Gosea teamed up with junior Stephen Hoh for the third time this season, taking down Sidarth Balaji and Tobias Reitz, 8-5, at No. 3 to remain undefeated as a pair. The 41st-ranked duo of seniors Dennis Nevolo and Roy Kalmanovich sealed the doubles point with an 8-6 win over Alex Pasareanu and Raleigh Smith at the No. 1 spot, putting Illinois on the scoreboard.
The Orange and Blue carried their momentum into singles play, as No. 4 Nevolo captured his team-leading 20th win of the season with a quick 6-2, 6-2 decision over Josh Graves at the No. 1 spot to extend the Illini lead to 2-0. Gosea followed with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Chris Jackman at No. 6 to put the Illini one win away from securing the match.
The Wildcats were not quite finished, however, as No. 24 Kalmanovich suffered a straight-set loss at No. 2 singles. The Illini were unfazed, as Kopinski finished off Alex Pasareanu, 6-2, 7-5, at No. 4 to clinch the victory for the Orange and Blue, marking the second time the newcomer has clinched in as many weeks. Junior Bruno Abdelnour captured a 7-5, 3-6, (10-6) victory at No. 6 singles to round out the Illini scoring.
"Dennis really set the tone in singles as well," Dancer said. "Roy went out and gave us a game, but he has been fighting illness and that really showed. He put up a great fight despite being sick. The freshmen, Tim and Farris, also played great matches and showed consistency. It's great to be playing that well from the top to the bottom of the lineup. I hope that continues."
The Illini are now 6-0 when winning the doubles point. The win marks the second time the Orange and Blue have won three straight matches this season with their last three-match winning streak coming in the first three contests of the year.
Illinois will return to action Sunday to host No. 17 Texas A&M at 1 p.m. at Atkins Tennis Center. Sunday's match will serve as Campus Kids' Day, which will feature free food, contests and prizes, along with a youth clinic following the on-court action.
1. #4 Dennis Nevolo (ILL) def. Josh Graves (NU) 6-2, 6-2
2. Spencer Wolf (NU) def. #24 Roy Kalmanovich (ILL) 6-3, 6-2
3. Raleigh Smith (NU) def. Stephen Hoh (ILL) 6-4, 7-5
4. Bruno Abdelnour (ILL) def. Sidarth Balaji 7-5, 3-6, (10-6)
5. Tim Kopinski (ILL) def. Alex Pasareanu (NU) 6-2, 7-5
6. Farris Gosea (ILL) def. Chris Jackman (NU) 6-3, 6-4
1. #41 Dennis Nevolo/Roy Kalmanovich (ILL) def. Alex Pasareanu/Raleigh Smith (NU) 8-6
2. Spencer Wolf/Chris Jackman (NU) def. Ross Guignon/Tim Kopinski (ILL) 8-7
3. Stephen Hoh/Farris Gosea (ILL) def. Sidarth Balaji/Tobias Reitz (NU) 8-5
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (1,6,2,5,3,4)