Illini Advance to Big Ten Tournament Title Match
April 26, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The 12th-ranked Illinois men's tennis team will get a second crack at No. 2 Ohio State via the Big Ten Tournament championship match. The Illini earned their way into the title match via a 4-0 shutout vs. Michigan in the semifinals. Thus, Illinois head coach Brad Dancer advances to his seventh tournament title match in his nine year career.
"The guys responded well after losing clarity in doubles," stated Dancer. "We have to set a better standard in doubles play and that starts with Tim and Ross. In singles, the Illini battled. We didn't give an inch. Michigan is a very good team and Justin Rossi put in an inspired performance."
Illinois continued to display dominance over the Wolverines, completing a 3-0 season sweep of Michigan with today's 4-0 shutout. The Orange and Blue immediately got off to a great start with doubles, where they won their third consecutive opening point.
Illinois once again relied on courts two and three to gain the early advantage. Blake Bazarnik and Alex Jesse wrapped first with an 8-6 victory over Alex Petrone and Michael Zhu. Then, Jared Hiltzik and Farris Gosea clinched at No. 2 doubles with a decisive 8-4 win over Kevin Wong and Shaun Bernstein.
The Illini didn't take long in singles to dispatch the Wolverines and move on in the Big Ten Tournament. Bazarnik and Jesse completed their doubles/singles sweep on the day, as both competitors won in straight sets. Bazarnik downed Vlad Stefan 6-3, 6-1 at No. 4 singles while Jesse bested Barrett Franks 6-1, 6-3 at the No. 6 spot.
No. 17 Gosea then put an end to the match when he dispatched Bernstein 6-3, 6-1, winning his 11th straight match in the process. Gosea will enter Sunday's title match 12-0 against Big Ten opponents this spring.
"Michigan has a classy team and to be able to go 3-0 against them this year shows our guys fighting spirt," added Dancer. "We look forward to playing Ohio State tomorrow."
Earlier today, top-seed Ohio State shutout five-seed Northwestern 4-0. Illinois traveled to Columbus on March 30 where they lost to the Buckeyes 5-2. They'll look to avenge that loss and claim the tournament crown tomorrow at 11 a.m. CT.
No. 1 -- #32 Buzzi / Franks (UM) vs. #5 Kopinski / Guignon (ILL), 7-5, unfinished
No. 2 -- Hiltzik / Gosea (ILL) def. Wong / Bernstein (UM), 8-4
No. 3 -- Bazarnik / Jesse (ILL) def. Petrone / Zhu (UM), 8-6
No. 1 -- #8 Jared Hiltzik (ILL) vs. #111 Alex Petrone (UM), 3-6, 6-2, unfinished
No. 2 -- #17 Farris Gosea (ILL) def. Shaun Bernstein (UM), 6-3, 6-1
No. 3 -- #56 Tim Kopinski (ILL) vs. Justin Rossi (UM), 4-6, 2-3, unfinished
No. 4 -- Blake Bazarnik (ILL) def. Vlad Stefan (UM), 6-3, 6-1
No. 5 -- Ross Guignon (ILL) vs. Alex Buzzi (UM), 6-2, 2-5, unfinished
No. 6 -- Alex Jesse (ILL) def. Barrett Franks (UM), 6-1, 6-3