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    Illini Advance Past Boilermakers into Semifinals
    Sophomore Marc Spicijaric's spirited win on court three leads Illini to 4-1 victory over Purdue.

    Sophomore Marc Spicijaric's spirited win on court three leads Illini to 4-1 victory over Purdue.

    April 27, 2007


    WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.  ­- The No. 9 Illinois men's tennis team looked in top form today at the Schwartz Tennis Center on the campus of Purdue University, handing the 2007 Big Ten Tournament host a 4-1 setback en route to earning its ninth straight berth into the conference semifinals. The Illini managed the wind and cold temperatures during doubles play to take a 1-0 lead before earning convincing wins in singles to advance to the third-day of the Big Ten Tournament where they will face No. 2-seeded Michigan.


    "I thought we came out with a lot of intensity and energy today in doubles and carried that through the match," head coach Brad Dancer said. "It's always good to get that first win under your belt. I thought overall, our execution could improve, but I was pleased with the way Marc was a leader for us and then Kevin followed with a pretty strong match. Now, we are going to just prepare for tomorrow and be ready to go against Michigan."


    The win improved Illinois to 17-7 on the season and set up a match against No. 2-seeded Michigan (19-5, 8-2) on Saturday at 2 p.m. (EST), 1 p.m. (CDT), at the Schwartz Tennis Center. The 20th-ranked Wolverines moved into the semifinals of the 2007 Big Ten Tournament after taking down No. 7-seeded Indiana, 4-1.


    Illinois has advanced into the semifinals every year since 1999 when the conference moved to the current format of 11-seeds and the top-four seeds receiving a bye into the quarterfinals. Illinois looks to continue to battle towards its seventh tournament championship in the last nine years against the Maize and Blue on Saturday.


    A full recap of the Illini's match against the Wolverines will be available at, following the conclusion of the match. Live scoring also can be followed at as well as complete tournament coverage.



    Heading into the day, the Fighting Illini were looking to end the Cinderella run by the 2007 Big Ten Tournament host, Purdue, and had no interest in being another upset victim at the hands of the Boilermakers on their home courts. Purdue entered today's matchup after notching their first Big Ten dual win of the season in a 4-1 upset over No. 7-seeded Minnesota in the first round on Thursday.


    Illinois started a little shaky at Nos. 2 and 3 doubles to begin the match, while the No. 9-ranked duo of Kevin Anderson and Ryan Rowe were in top form on court one. Senior GD Jones and sophomore Marc Spicijaric at No. 3, however, were able to silence an aggressive style of play from Paul Foley and Griffin Nienberg (PUR), sealing the first win of the day, 8-4, behind two late-match breaks. Illinois' top pair of Anderson and Rowe, though troubled by the pesky tandem of Branko Kuzmanovic and Paul Rose of Purdue on court one, capitalized off two breaks en route to an 8-4 victory, sealing the doubles point for Illinois. Juniors Brandon Davis and Ruben Gonzales ended their tilt on court two in a 6-6 tie before play was ended.


    Heading into singles with an early 1-0 lead, the 19th time the Illini had captured the doubles point in 24 matches this season, Illinois moved indoors to finish the Big Ten battle.


    There, Illinois stormed out to first set victories on five different courts, looking in full control of the match from the early goings. Known to be Illinois` clutch player when in need of a sealing singles victory, Spicijaric decided to lead the charge today as he found himself in cruise control in the second frame after taking the first 6-3. Continuing to apply the pressure, Spicijaric iced off the win with a 6-1 second-set victory, giving Illinois a 2-0 lead.


    Purdue responded with its only dual point of the afternoon on court five, as Illinois' Jones was unable to find his rhythm against Foley (PUR), 6-2, 7-5. The Auckland, New Zealand native found himself down early after Foley took full advantage of multiple errors in the first set, and despite Illinois' senior making a push in the second, Jones' could not send the dual into a third frame.


    With a first set victory already in tow, Anderson (ILL) make quick work in the second against Kuzmanovic (PUR) to clinch the 6-4, 6-2 win. Rowe (ILL) polished off the afternoon for the Fighting Illini as he watched Rose (PUR) double fault on his last service game, handing the junior a 6-4, 6-3 victory on court two and the Illini a 4-1 dual-match win.






    No. 3-Seed/No. 9-Ranked ILLINOIS 4, No. 11-seed Purdue 1


    Singles competition

    1. #5 Kevin Anderson (ILL) def. Branko Kuzmanovic (PUR) 6-4, 6-2

    2. #23 Ryan Rowe (ILL) def. Paul Rose (PUR) 6-4, 6-3

    3. Marc Spicijaric (ILL) def. Eric Hodgman (PUR) 6-3, 6-1

    4. Kurt Zaske (PUR) vs. Ruben Gonzales (ILL) 3-6, 6-1, unfinished

    5. Paul Foley (PUR) def. GD Jones (ILL) 6-2, 7-5

    6. Scott Warner (PUR) vs. Brandon Davis (ILL) 6-7 (4-7), 1-1, unfinished


    Doubles competition

    1. #9 Ryan Rowe/Kevin Anderson (ILL) def. Branko Kuzmanovic/Paul Rose (PUR) 8-4

    2. Eric Hodgman/Jose Fuenmayor (PUR) vs. Brandon Davis/Ruben Gonzales (ILL) 6-6, unfinished

    3. GD Jones/Marc Spicijaric (ILL) def. Paul Foley/Griffin Nienberg (PUR) 8-4


    Match Notes:

    Order of finish: Doubles (3, 1); Singles (3, 5, 1, 2)



    In the two team's last meeting, then No. 8 Illinois suffered a stunning upset at the hands of No. 19 Michigan, 5-2, in Ann Arbor, Mich., dropping its first conference contest of the season. Against the Wolverines, the Illini claimed two tough wins to clinch the doubles point but were unable to use the momentum in singles to claim the victory.  


    Senior GD Jones and sophomore Marc Spicijaric (ILL) gave the Illini an early lead in doubles on court two, disposing of the No. 35-ranked Ryan Heller and Andrew Mazlin (UM), 8-6. Michigan returned the favor shortly after, tallying a win on court three by a mirroring score to setup the deciding match at No. 1.


    With the same competitive air of an NCAA Championships semifinal or final, the 10th-ranked pair of Kevin Anderson and Ryan Rowe were challenged all the way to the final point, but prevailed 9-8(1) over the third-ranked duo of Brian Hung and Matko Maravic (UM).


    With the doubles point in hand, Illinois was looking to continue its push in the match. In the current circumstances, the Orange and Blue had already put the Wolverines on their heels in the contest as Michigan had only dropped the doubles point in four of their 19 matches this season.


    In singles, fifth-ranked Anderson extended the lead for Illinois as he dismissed No. 50 Hung quickly 6-1, 6-1, giving Illinois unfortunately its last win of the evening.


    From that point on, showing a never-quit attitude, Michigan used the energy of a record-setting crowd of almost 500 fans to pull themselves back into the match en route to a 5-2 victory.



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