#11 Illinois Downs #14 Kentucky, 4-2
April 2, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. - On Wednesday, the No. 11 Fighting Illini men's tennis team took a little break in its Big Ten schedule to travel to Lexington where they defeated the 14th ranked Kentucky Wildcats by the score of 4-2. Illinois produced a strong singles performance which guided the squad to its seventh win over a top-25 ranked team this spring.
"It was the definition of a team effort today," said Illinois head coach Brad Dancer. "Our team continues to show a love for the sport and enjoys tough competitive situations."
Illinois received wins from its top-three singles positions and Ross Guignon on court five. No. 42 Tim Kopinski and No. 9 Jared Hiltzik were the first two to secure victory, quickly dispatching their top-100 ranked opponents in straight sets. Kopinski has now won five straight matches, the longest streak of any player on the team.
Guignon delivered the third point for Illinois when he defeated Kevin Lai, 7-6(4), 6-1. Then Farris Gosea clinched it for the Orange and Blue in a top-25 showdown. No. 23 Gosea, who was fresh off of defeating No. 8 Peter Kobelt of Ohio State, earned a hard fought 6-7(7), 6-4, 6-3 victory over No. 11 Tom Jomby.
"Farris had some chances to close out the first set and didn't capitalize," stated Dancer. "He jumped right back on the pony and dialed it in for the last two sets. Coach Rowe was instrumental in helping him along."
Julian Childers was closing in on a three-set victory of his own when his match was called due to the team match being clinched. After dropping the first set 3-6, Childers rallied and took the second set 6-4. The sophomore was up 6-5 in the third set when it was stopped.
"The last two matches were really about coach and player working together," continued Dancer. "Marcos has done an incredible job helping Julian along and to watch Julian's maturation has been a thoroughly enjoyable process. He stayed calm and stayed the course through a difficult situation."
The Orange and Blue started singles play down 1-0 after dropping the doubles point to Kentucky. The third ranked team of Kopinski and Guignon lost their first doubles match since Feb. 7 (Texas A&M), losing 8-6 to No. 31 Tom Jomby and Kevin Lai. Beck Pennington and Alejandro Gomez then clinched with a 8-6 win over Gosea and Hiltzik.
As a result of today's win, Illinois moves to 14-7 overall and 15-13 all-time against the Wildcats. The Illini resume Big Ten play this weekend when they return home to host Michigan State on Friday at 3 p.m. CT and Michigan on Sunday at Noon.
No. 1 -- #31 Jomby / Lai (UK) def. #3 Guignon / Kopinski (ILL), 8-6
No. 2 -- Gomez / Pennington (UK) def. Gosea / Hiltzik (ILL), 8-6
No. 3 -- Bazarnik / Jesse (ILL) vs. Ellefsen / Hirooka (UK), 6-4
No. 1 -- #23 Farris Gosea (ILL) def. #11 Tom Jomby (UK), 6-7(7), 6-4, 6-3
No. 2 -- #9 Jared Hiltzik (ILL) def. #90 Beck Pennington (UK), 6-2, 6-4
No. 3 -- #42 Tim Kopinski (ILL) def. #85 Alejandro Gomez (UK), 6-1, 6-3
No. 4 -- Jerry Lopez (UK) def. Blake Bazarnik (ILL), 6-4, 6-3
No. 5 -- Ross Guignon (ILL) def. Kevin Lai (UK), 7-6(4), 6-1
No. 6 -- Julian Childers (ILL) vs. Grant Roberts (UK), 3-6, 6-4, 6-5, unfinished