Illini Upset Bid Falls Short at 4-3 to #5 OSU
April 13, 2013
URBANA, Ill. - The Illini (12-9, 5-3 B1G) gave #5 Ohio State (25-2, 8-0 B1G) all they could handle and them some but came up short in a 4-3 loss to the Buckeyes. Illinois was just the third team this year to earn three points against the Buckeyes, the most amongst any Big Ten School and the first since Feb. 17.
Illinois did indeed break a streak today, snapping Ohio State's 17 straight matches of earning the doubles point. Thus, the Illini became the first Big Ten team to secure the doubles point against Ohio State this season and just the second team overall amongst all of the NCAA.
The afternoon started with an exhilarating doubles comeback from the Orange and Blue. Ohio State jumped ahead after #33 Blaz Rola/Kevin Metka claimed an 8-5 win over Brian Page/Farris Gosea on court three.
Next, the ranked battle on court one between #19 Tim Kopinski/Ross Guignon and #16 Peter Kobelt/Connor Smith went into a tie-break. A tight battle at 4-3, Kopinski/Guignon then excellerated to a 7-3 victory to even it up.
All eyes then turned to Alex Jesse/Jared Hiltzik vs. #32 Devin McCarthy/Ille Van Engelen on court two where the match was tied at seven-seven. Down 40-15 with Jesse serving to loud I-L-L chants, the Illini rallied to deuce and eventually earned the game. The match soon went into yet another tie-break round and like the one before, went in Illinois' favor, as they won 7-3 to obtain the doubles point.
Jesse/Hiltzik are now 4-0 in Big Ten doubles action when paired together. In addition, Kopinski's/Guignon's victory meant the Illini duo remain undefeated at 5-0 against nationally ranked top-25 teams.
"We are beginning to have consistency in terms of the energy we play with and also the composure down the stretch," stated Illinois head coach Brad Dancer. "If we do that, then doubles is simple. Our team has done a better job of that over the last month so that's an improvement for us."
The Illini battled throughout singles but only obtained two points against a Buckeye line-up that featured five ranked players. #36 Jared Hiltzik continues to lead a solid freshman campaign, upsetting #9 Blaz Rola in the No. 1 position 6-4, 7-5 and handing Rola his first loss of the season, now 19-1.
In addition, Alex Jesse gritted out the third and final point for Illinois. After dropping the first set 7-5, the freshman found himself in a 5-2 hole. Jesse rallied to eventually tie it at 6-6, forcing a tie-break in which he won 9-7. Playing a super tie-break third set, Jesse out-dueled Hunter Callahan to take it 10-6. Impressive to note, Jesse denied a total of eight match points on his way to victory this evening.
Sophomores Tim Kopinski and Ross Guignon had chances to deliver a giant push for the Orange and Blue towards victory but both came up short in the third sets. Kopinski downed #6 Peter Kobelt 6-3 in the first set, but Kobelt bounced back with two straight 6-4 sets. After dropping the first set to #63 Connor Smith, Guignon fought for a 6-3 second set. However, with Guignon trailing just 3-2 in the third set, Smith went on to earn the next three of four games for the clincher.
"It's an important time for us to recognize what are the standards of how we play," said Dancer. "We need to uphold the preparation standards that the coaches want to have and move forward from there. If we do that, I think we'll be good enough for the things this team wants to accomplish."
Up next, Illinois continues their home-stand by hosting Penn State on Sunday at 12 p.m. CT.
No. 1 -- #36 Jared Hiltzik (ILL) def. #9 Blaz Rola (OSU) - 6-4, 7-5
No. 2 -- #6 Peter Kobelt (OSU) def. Tim Kopinski (ILL) - 3-6, 6-4, 6-4
No. 3 -- #63 Connor Smith (OSU) def. Ross Guignon (ILL) - 6-2, 3-6, 6-3
No. 4 -- #84 Devin McCarthy (OSU) def. Stephen Hoh (ILL) - 6-3, 6-1
No. 5 -- #61 Chris Diaz(OSU) def. Farris Gosea (ILL) - 6-3, 6-2
No. 6 -- Alex Jesse (ILL) def. Hunter Callahan (OSU) - 5-7, 7-6(7), 1-0(6)
No. 1 -- #19 Kopinski/Guignon (ILL) def. #16 Kobelt/Smith (OSU), 9-8(3)
No. 2 -- Jesse/Hiltzik (ILL) def. #32 McCarthy/Van Engelen (OSU), 9-8(3)
No. 3 -- #33 Rola/Metka (OSU) def. Page/Gosea (ILL), 8-5