#12 Illini Fall 4-2 to #2 Ohio State in B1G Title Match
April 27, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. - For the 11th straight year, Illinois men's tennis and Ohio State met in the Big Ten Tournament. Though the Illini lived up to its fighting moniker and pushed the second ranked and top-seed Buckeyes to their limit on Sunday afternoon, it was OSU who walked away with the 2014 Tournament title with a 4-2 victory.
"Very frustrating loss. We were out-coached today and they out-prepared us. They did a better job of creating an environment here," said Illinois head coach Brad Dancer. "It's also about our guys knowing what tempo to play at and keeping control of it."
The Illini found themselves at a disadvantage heading into singles play after dropping the doubles point, with all three courts being decided by the score of 8-4. Farris Gosea and Blake Bazarnik were the lone victors, downing Hunter Callahan and Chris Diaz.
Illinois threatened the Buckeyes after its top two competitors Gosea and Jared Hiltzik put the Orange and Blue in the lead, 2-1. OSU's top ranked player No. 7 Peter Kobelt once again fell victim to an Illini, this time, No. 8 Hiltzik, 7-5, 6-2. Hiltzik has now won nine straight. No. 17 Gosea then followed suit with a 6-2, 6-4 win over No. 97 Herrko Pollanen, moving to 13-0 this spring against conference foes.
Next, Ohio State tied it back up after getting the best of No. 56 Tim Kopinski. The junior came close to claiming the first set with the score tied 5-5 in the tiebreak, but Ralf Steinbach was able to pull ahead and then carry the momentum into the second set, winning 7-6(5), 6-1.
"Tim had controlled his entire match outside of a 20 minute window," added Dancer. "That 20 minutes was really costly. I think he just lost track of where he was for a little bit and that proved to be a pivotal point in his match."
All eyes then turned to courts 4-6 to decide the fate of the Big Ten Tournament championship. Like Kopinski, Alex Jesse found himself tied at 5-5 in his second set tiebreak after dropping the first set 6-4 to Kevin Metka. Unfortunately, for the Orange and Blue the outcome was the same as Metka took it 7-6(5), putting the Buckeyes within striking distance.
On court five, Ross Guignon battled Hunter Callahan in a back and forth contest. Up 6-5 in the first set, Callahan rallied to win it in the tiebreak 7-6(4). In the second set, Guignon was down 3-0 at one point and fought to get within one at 3-2, but the junior couldn't produce another break to gain the lead and as a result, OSU clinched the match.
Blake Bazarnik's three set match vs. Chris Diaz went unfinished. After dropping the first set 7-5, Bazarnik rallied to earn a 6-2 second set win. The junior was down 5-4 when the match was stopped.
Up next, the Illini will see where they are seeded in the NCAA Tournament. The selection show, which airs on NCAA.com, is scheduled for Tuesday, April 29, at 4 p.m. CT.
No. 1 -- #57 Kobelt / Steinbach (OSU) def. #5 Kopinski / Guignon (ILL), 8-4
No. 2 -- Metka / Pollanen (OSU) def. Hiltzik / Jesse (ILL), 8-4
No. 3 -- Bazarnik / Gosea (ILL) def. Callahan / Diaz (OSU), 8-4
No. 1 -- #8 Jared Hiltzik (ILL) def. #7 Peter Kobelt (OSU), 7-5, 6-2
No. 2 -- #17 Farris Gosea (ILL) def. #97 Herkko Pollanen (OSU), 6-2, 6-4
No. 3 -- Ralf Steinbach (OSU) def. #56 Tim Kopinski (ILL), 7-6(5), 6-1
No. 4 -- Blake Bazarnik (ILL) vs. Chris Diaz (OSU), 5-7, 6-2, 4-5, unfinished
No. 5 -- #123 Hunter Callahan (OSU) def. Ross Guignon (ILL), 7-6(4), 6-4
No. 6 -- Kevin Metka (OSU) def. Alex Jesse (ILL), 6-4, 7-6(5)