Sophomore Billy Heiser clinches first match of the season to help Illinois over Northwestern, 7-0.
March 29, 2008
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The No. 16 Illinois men's tennis team was firing on all cylinders in its 7-0 win today over Northwestern to extend its winning streak to 12 over the Wildcats and fifth straight in Evanston, Ill. The Illini (10-5, 3-0 Big Ten) remain perfect in conference action with the win, while Northwestern (7-10, 0-4 Big Ten) is still looking for its first win after dropping its fourth straight in league affairs and had its two-match win streak snapped in the process.
"We competed well and didn't drop a set in a dual match for the first time all season, so that speaks to how well our guys played and focused in their matches," head coach Brad Dancer said. "Today was a full team effort, and I thought that Billy Heiser's match stood out as a very clean win for him today. Now we look forward to getting on the road and getting to Madison to get ready for Wisconsin."
The Illini started off the impressive win by sweeping the doubles portion of the afternoon, as the 22-ranked pair of senior Ryan Rowe and sophomore Billy Heiser won their fifth straight and 18th match of the year, topping Peter Rispoli and Alexander Thams (NU), 8-4, to start off the day. The 32-ranked tandem of seniors Brandon Davis and Ruben Gonzales (ILL) returned to their winning ways as well, downing Marc Dwyer and Alex Sanborn of Northwestern to seal the 1-0 Illinois lead. Junior Marc Spicijaric and freshman Connor Roth (ILL) rounded out the clean sweep as they improved to 3-1 on the year with their win on court three.
With Illinois' best tennis still to come in singles, it quickly jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead behind victories by Rowe (ILL) and Spicijaric (ILL) at Nos. 1 and 3 singles. In fact, Spicijaric's win at No. 3 singles marked his fourth straight with a pair of 6-2 set wins over Thams (NU). Then, as coach Dancer pointed out, Heiser (ILL) put the finishing touches on a spectacular match at No. 4 singles, toppling Rispoli (NU), 6-1, 6-3, to clinch the match at 4-0.
With the damage already done in Illinois' fifth win in their last six matches, freshman Waylon Chin (ILL) snapped a mid-season slump as he upended Andrew McCarthy (NU), 6-4, 6-3, and Gonzales (ILL) outplayed Sanborn (NU) in a 7-5, 6-4 victory. Freshman Abe Souza rounded out the afternoon to make the final score 7-0 with a straight sets win on court six, marking his fourth straight victory as well.
"We still have another strong test against Wisconsin on the road tomorrow," Dancer said about the Illini's focus after the win. "Wisconsin is a good team and they have not lost at home, so we are going to have to come out to play if we want to come out on top and take care of business tomorrow."
Illinois returns to the courts tomorrow as they take on No. 45 Wisconsin at noon in Madison, Wis. A live blog will be available for Illinois' match against Wisconsin on Sunday at the Nielsen Tennis Stadium (Wisconsin does not have live scoring capability). A full recap will be available at the conclusion of the match, as well as the live blog, at the official home of Illinois men's' tennis, fightingillini.com, by clicking on the Illinois men's tennis schedule link.
#16 UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS 7, NORTHWSTERN UNIVERSITY 0
3/292008 AT EVANSTON, ILL. (COMBE TENNIS CENTER)
1. #80 Ruben Gonzales (ILL) def. Marc Dwyer (NU) - 6-4, 6-3
2. #9 Ryan Rowe (ILL) def. Alex Sanborn (NU) - 7-5, 6-4
3. Marc Spicijaric (ILL) def. Alexander Thams (NU) -6-2, 6-2
4. #76 Billy Heiser (ILL) def. Peter Rispoli (NU) - 6-1, 6-3
5. Waylon Chin (ILL) def. Andrew McCarthy (NU) - 6-4, 6-3
6. Abe Souza (ILL) def. Juan Gomez (NU) - 7-6, 7-6
1. #32 Brandon Davis / Ruben Gonzales (ILL) def. Marc Dwyer / Alex Sanborn (NU) - 9-8
2. #22 Billy Heiser / Ryan Rowe (ILL) def. Peter Rispoli / Alexander Thams (NU) - 8-4
3. Marc Spicijaric / Connor Roth (ILL) def. Andrew McCarthy / Juan Gomez (NU) - 9-7
University of Illinois 10-5, 3-0 Big Ten
Northwestern University 7-10, 0-4 Big Ten
Order of finish: Doubles (2, 1, 3); Singles (1, 3, 4, 5, 2, 6)