Illinois Advances Past Northwestern, 4-2
April 26, 2013
COLUMBUS, Ohio. – Illinois head coach Brad Dancer has not lost an opening match at the Big Ten Tournament and today's result was no different, as the Orange and Blue defeated up-state rival Northwestern 4-2 in the quarterfinals. The two All-Big Ten honorees Jared Hiltzik and Tim Kopinski shone bright, earning both singles and doubles victories.
"It was a good team effort today," stated Dancer. "Kopinski embodied what we preach daily. He played relentlessly and kept his composure. Jared did a great job against a strong senior opponent in Spencer Wolf who played well. In addition, Coach Asse did a tremendous job managing Gosea, Hoh and Kopinski. A lot of credit goes to his in game management in keeping those three on task."
#13 Tim Kopinski and Ross Guignon shot out of the gate with a quick 8-4 doubles win over Spencer Wolf/Alex Pasareanu at the No. 1 position, a spot where the duo are now 8-1 this spring.
Then the pairing of #85 Jared Hiltzik and Alex Jesse continued to roll defeating Mihir Kumar/Raleigh Smith in the No. 2 position 8-4 to clinch the doubles point. Therefore, Hiltzik/Jesse extend their doubles winning streak to 10 matches and are still undefeated against conference foes.
Next, Farris Gosea, Jared Hiltzik and Tim Kopinski secured the semifinals berth for Illinois as the trio each clinched a singles point against the Wildcats.
At the No. 6 position, Gosea was up 5-1 in the first set and had to fend off a surging Chris Jackman to take it 7-5. Then down 5-3 in the second set, the sophomore rallied to win it 7-6 and earn the point for the Orange and Blue.
#31 Jared Hiltzik delivered next in his first Big Ten Tournament appearance. The conference freshman of the year upended Spencer Wolf in the No. 1 position 6-2, 6-3. Now 12-3 in the top slot, Hiltzik has won six singles matches in a row.
Tim Kopinski produced the final blow to send the Illini over the top as the sophomore grinded out a three-set victory over #87 Raleigh Smith at the No. 2 position. After dropping the first set 6-4, Kopinski battled back to take the second set 6-3. Tied at four games apiece in the third set, Kopinski won the next two games to clinch his match and the overall match for Illinois.
Awaiting the Illini in the semifinals is top-seed Ohio State who ranks fourth in the country. Last year, these two squads met in the Big Ten Tournament Championship match where the Illini upset the Buckeyes 4-3. The win snapped Ohio State's 92 match win streak against Big Ten schools and their six year reign as tournament champs. This season, the Buckeyes have begun a new streak, going 12-0 against conference competition.
Illinois and Ohio State clash on Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. CT. The winner goes on to the Championship match on Sunday at 11 a.m. CT.
No. 1 -- #31 Jared Hiltzik (ILL) def. Spencer Wolf (NW) - 6-2, 6-3
No. 2 -- Tim Kopinski (ILL) def. #87 Raleigh Smith (NW) - 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
No. 3 -- Sidarth Balaji (NW) def. Bruno Abdelnour (ILL) - 6-2, 6-2
No. 4 -- Stephen Hoh (ILL) vs. Mihir Kumar (NW) - 3-6, 7-5, 2-3, uf
No. 5 -- Alex Pasareanu (NW) def. Ross Guignon (ILL) - 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-1
No. 6 -- Farris Gosea (ILL) def. Chris Jackman (NW) - 7-5, 7-6
No. 1 -- #13 Guignon/Kopinski (ILL) def. Wolf/Pasareanu (NW) - 8-4
No. 2 -- #85 Hiltzik/Jesse (ILL) def. Kumar/Smith (NW) - 8-4
No. 3 -- Abdelnour/Gosea (ILL) vs. Balaji/Jackman (NW) - 5-4, uf