Junior Marc Spicijaric clinched the win as Illinois improved to 6-1 at home in 2008.
March 12, 2008
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The No. 16-ranked Illinois men's tennis team had to defend its home court against a well-prepared No. 27-ranked TCU team, but in the end the power and might of Illinois tennis prevailed as the Illini tallied a 5-2 victory over the Horned Frogs tonight at the Atkins Tennis Center. The win improved Illinois to 6-1 at home, including the last five straight, while the Orange and Blue handed TCU its third straight loss in the process in dominating fashion.
In a night where fans were encouraged to come dressed in their best costumes, Darth Vader, Spider Man and an Illinois version of Superman - complete with an Illinois flag as his cape - were all on hand to watch the match. However, Illinois did not need to call on any of their services tonight, as it took care of business on the court itself to improve to 9-4 on the year, while TCU dropped to 10-4. The Frogs also lost their second straight match to a Big Ten competitor after falling 5-2 to No. 62 Wisconsin on Monday night.
The Horned Frogs, fresh off that loss to the Badgers, came out on a mission in doubles against Illinois. Despite No. 20-ranked Ryan Rowe and Billy Heiser of Illinois carding an easy win in the night's first victory on court two over Emanuel Brighiu and Adrian Simon (TCU), 8-3, TCU was not going away as it held its ground on courts one and three. In fact, junior Marc Spicijaric and freshman Connor Roth (ILL) were up a pair of breaks on court three at 5-2 and 6-3 over Zach Nichols and Jack Seider (TCU) before the Horned Frog pair stormed back to take a 7-6 lead. However, the Illini crowd cheered the Orange and Blue duo back into the match, as they regained their footing and pulled out a 9-8(3) victory to clinch the doubles point.
Another tight showdown was brewing on court one as well, as the 21st-ranked tandem of Brandon Davis and Ruben Gonzales (ILL) had their hands full against TCU's Cosmin Cotet and Kriegler Brink, tied at 3-all. Davis (ILL) then dropped his serve to force the UI pair to play from behind down the stretch. However in the clutch, Davis (ILL) responded well in the final points, putting away overheads with authority to lead him and Gonzales to a 9-8(5) comeback victory. The win helped Illinois sweep the doubles matches for the fourth time this season -with all three previous instances ending in Illini triumphs.
With a 1-0 lead in hand, Illini senior No. 92-ranked Gonzales (ILL) was on cruise control on court two, as he upended Emanuel Brighiu (TCU) without dropping a sweat, 6-2, 6-1, to start off the singles portion of the evening. In fact, behind his lead, Illinois took down three opening sets to start off the dual. Then, with Illinois showing no signs of slowing down, No. 14-ranked Rowe (ILL) put the final dagger in No. 21 Cotet (TCU) at No. 1 singles, winning 6-4, 6-2 on an unreturnable serve. Rowe's (ILL) win handed Cotet 9TCU) only his third loss of the season.
And with the match on the line, "Mr. Clutch" Spicijaric (ILL) clinched the match on court three, bouncing No. 115 Simon (TCU) with a pair of 6-2 set wins to seal the victory for Illinois.
Illinois next goes on the road to have a non-conference showdown against 2006 NCAA champion and 22nd-ranked Pepperdine on Wednesday, March 19. The match is slated for a 2p.m. CT, noon PT, start at the Ralphs-Straus Tennis Center in Malibu, Calif.
UNIVERSITYOF ILLINOIS 5, TEXAS CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY 2
3/12/2008 AT URBANA, ILL. (ATKINS TENNIS CENTER)
1. #14 Ryan Rowe (ILL) def. #21 Cosmin Cotet (TCU) - 6-2, 6-4
2. #92 Ruben Gonzales (ILL) def. Emanuel Brighiu (TCU) - 6-2, 6-1
3. Marc Spicijaric (ILL) def. #115 Adrian Simon (TCU) - 6-2, 6-2
4. Kriegler Brink (TCU) def. #84 Billy Heiser (ILL) - 7-6(2), 6-4
5. #122 Zach Nichols (TCU) def. Waylon Chin (ILL) - 6-3, 2-6, 1-0(7)
6. Brandon Davis (ILL) def. Casey Powers (TCU) - 6-2, 0-6, 1-0(8)
1. #21 Brandon Davis / Ruben Gonzales (ILL) def. Cosmin Cotet / Kriegler Brink (TCU) - 9-8(5)
2. #20 Ryan Rowe / Billy Heiser (ILL) def. Emanuel Brighiu / Adrian Simon (TCU) - 8-3
3. Marc Spicijaric / Connor Roth (ILL) def. Zach Nichols / Jack Seider (TCU) - 9-8(3)
University of Illinois 9-4, 1-0 Big Ten; National Ranking - 16
TCU 10-4, National Ranking - 27
Order of finish: Doubles (2, 3, 1); Singles (2, 1, 3, 6, 5, 4)