Sophomore Billy Heiser tops No. 123 Omar Altmann at No. 3 singles in Illinois' dual loss today.
March 19, 2008
MALIBU, Calif. - The No. 12-ranked Illinois men's tennis team came out strong under the sunny skies of California, but it was not enough in a slim 4-3 loss at the hands of No. 15 Pepperdine tonight at the Ralphs-Strauss Tennis Center. Despite the setback, No. 76-ranked Billy Heiser remained a bright spot for the Illini in the loss as he took down No. 123 Omar Altmann (PEPP) in a three-set marathon at No. 3 singles, while junior Marc Spicijaric nabbed his third straight win as well.
"Bottom line, we did not perform as well as we needed to today to win the match," head coach Brad Dancer said about the play of his team. "We continued to struggle at No. 3 doubles, which has been a problem area for us all year. Then in singes, Pepperdine outplayed us at certain spots to get the victory. This is a match that we are definitely capable of winning, but we did not come out today with what it took to get the job done."
Pepperdine improved to 7-6 on the year, including derailing their fourth higher-ranked opponent of the year by the same score of 4-3, while Illinois dropped to 9-5 overall. Illinois is the most recent victim of a Pepperdine team that is playing well at home (4-1) and overall, as they have taken down three straight top-20 opponents, including No. 14 Baylor, No. 19 Texas A&M and now Illinois.
In what usually is the strongest part of the Illini's game as a team, doubles, Illinois was not on it's "A" game, and Pepperdine took advantage. The Waves captured an 8-5 victory at No. 3 doubles before senior Ryan Rowe and sophomore Billy Heiser - ranked No. 22 in the country - evened the doubles portion of the match at 1-1 with their 8-5 victory over Johannes de Villiers and Bassam Beidas (PEPP). The win is the tandems fourth straight (10 of their last 14) and 17th of the year, but was not enough as Illinois dropped a rare match at No. 1 doubles to give Pepperdine the crucial doubles point.
Then in singles, the Waves used a home-crowd and their momentum to tab wins at Nos. 1 and 2 singles to take a 3-0 match lead and put Illinois on the ropes. Freshman Abe Souza (ILL), who has now won three straight, put UI on the board by upending Alejandro Moreno (PEPP) in a 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 come-from-behind win, but was not enough as Pepperdine wrapped up the dual with a victory on court five.
Illinois then ended the dual on a positive note, as Spicijaric (ILL) overcame James Lemke (PEPP), 3-6, 6-4(5), 1-0(6), in a match tiebreak, while No. 76 Heiser (ILL) finished off the day with a win at No. 3.
"Now, it is important for us to learn from today's match but not dwell on it," Dancer said. "We have a couple of days left of training here before we head back home for a week to prepare for Big Ten matches on the road against Northwestern and Wisconsin."
Illinois now finishes up its Spring Break training in California before heading back to the Midwest to take on in-state foe Northwestern on Saturday, March 29 in Evanston, Ill., followed by a Sunday, March 30 match against Wisconsin in Madison, Wis. Both matches are slated for noon CT starts.
#15 PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY 4, #12 UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS 3
3/19/2008 AT MALIBU, CALIF. (RALPHS-STRAUSS TENNIS CENTER)
1. #10 Andre Begemann (PEPP) def. #9 Ryan Rowe (ILL) - 7-5, 7-5
2. #20 Bassam Beidas (PEPP) def. #80 Ruben Gonzales (ILL) - 6-4, 6-3
3. #76 Billy Heiser (ILL) def. #123 Omar Altmann (PEPP) - 6-4, 0-6, 7-5
4. Marc Spicijaric (ILL) def. James Lemke (PEPP) - 3-6, 6-4 (5), 1-0 (6)
5. Mahmoud Kamel (PEPP) def. Waylon Chin (ILL) - 4-6, 6-2, 6-2
6. Abe Souza (ILL) def. Alejandro Moreno (PEPP) - 1-6, 6-1, 6-4
1. #20 Andre Begemann / Omar Altmann (PEPP) def. #32 Brandon Davis / Ruben Gonzales (UI) - 8-5
2. #22 Ryan Rowe / Billy Heiser (UI) def. Johannes de Villiers / Bassam Beidas (PEPP) - 8-5
3. Alejandro Moreno / James Lemke (PEPP) def. Marc Spicijaric / Connor Roth (UI) - 8-5
University of Illinois 9-5; National Ranking - 12
Pepperdine University 7-6, National Ranking - 15
Order of finish: Doubles (3, 2, 1); Singles (2, 1, 6, 5, 4, 3)