No. 9 Illini Stumble Against Notre Dame, 4-3
March 29, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The ninth-ranked Illinois men's tennis team suffered a tough 4-3 loss to the No. 27-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish this afternoon at the Eck Tennis Pavilion in Notre Dame, Ind. The Fighting Illini had a quick setback in doubles to trail early, 1-0, and fell short in their efforts in singles.
"The bottom line is I feel we are capable of playing better than how we performed today," Illinois head coach Brad Dancer said. "We have to be ready for Indiana on Tuesday, as we have a tough conference swing ahead of us with three Big Ten matches in six days and we have to get better prepared."
With the loss, Illinois dropped to 13-5 on the season, while Notre Dame improved to 11-9 on the year.
In doubles, the Orange and Blue fell behind quickly as the No.25-ranked Irish tandem of Brett Helgeson and Tyler Davis took an 8-1 decision over Illinois' 37th-ranked duo of Marc Spicijaric and Marek Czerwinski on court one. Notre Dame secured the doubles point as Stephen Havens and Casey Watt (UND) defeated Illinois' Roy Kalmanovich and Ruan Roelofse, 8-5, at the No. 2 slot. The Orange and Blue picked up a victory at No. 3 doubles as the Illini duo of Brian Livingston and Dennis Nevolo edged out the Irish's David Anderson and Daniel Stahl (UND), 7-6 (5).
The Illini looked poised to make a comeback as junior Marek Czerwinski quickly got Illinois on the board with a straight sets win over Notre Dame's Niall Fitzgerald 6-3, 7-6 (2) on court six. The Irish jumped ahead with wins at Nos. 1 and 4 singles to take a 3-1 lead.
Illinois evened the score at 3-3 as freshman Dennis Nevolo and sophomore Roy Kalmanovich battled to three-set victories on their respective courts. At No. 2 singles, the 35th-ranked Nevolo fell behind in the first set 3-6 to Stephen Havens (UND). The Gurnee, Ill., native regrouped to take the next two sets and the match 6-3, 6-2.
On court three for the Illini, the 43rd-ranked Kalmanovich dropped his first set in a hard-fought tiebreaker to Notre Dame's Casey Watt. However, Kalmanovich regrouped as he took the second set in convincing fashion, 6-2. The Framingham, Mass., native maintained his momentum tallying a 6-4 decision in the third set for the win.
With the match tied, all attention focused on court five. Illinois junior Meedo El Tabakh fell short to ND's David Anderson 7-6 (2), 6-4, as the Irish took the win.
The Illini look to snap a two-match losing streak on Tuesday, Mar. 31, as they travel to face the Indiana Hoosiers in Bloomington, Ind. Match time is set for 1 p.m. CT.