#24 Illini Advance to Title Match of 2012 Big Ten Tournament
April 28, 2012
EVANSTON, Ill. - The 24th-ranked and third-seeded University of Illinois men's tennis team (16-7) posted its second straight shutout with a 4-0 win over No. 22-ranked and second-seeded Michigan Saturday afternoon at Northwestern's Combe Tennis Center. With the victory, Illinois advances to face top-seeded Ohio State (31-2) in the championship match of the 2012 Big Ten Tournament on Sunday.
"I'm proud of my guys," Illini head coach Brad Dancer said. "We've talked immensely about how we need to bring our game to the opponents and make a change in the way we perceive ourselves. I don't think we're completely there yet, but I think we're improving. As part of that improvement, our guys are doing a better job of staying in the moment on their courts and not getting distracted by other things."
The Orange and Blue jumped out to an early lead, securing the doubles point for their third straight match. No. 28 senior duo Dennis Nevolo and Roy Kalmanovich led off with an 8-4 win over No. 29 pairing Evan King and Shaun Bernstein at the top spot, while freshman duo Tim Kopinski and Ross Guignon clinched the point with an 8-5 decision over Alex Buzzi and Barrett Franks on court two.
The Illini cruised through singles play, as junior Stephen Hoh captured a 6-4, 7-5 win over Franks at the No. 5 position. Classmate Bruno Abdelnour followed with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Bernstein on court three, while Kopinski sealed the Orange and Blue win with a 7-6, 6-2 decision over Michael Zhu on court four.
"I just want to thank Illini nation of the past, present and future," Dancer said. "They made Northwestern feel like a home match for us today. It was a great indication of the true family spirit of Illinois tennis. I also want to congratulate Michigan on an outstanding year, especially Evan King. He's had an amazing season."
Illinois will battle regular-season champion Ohio State for the Big Ten Tournament title tomorrow at Noon CT. The No. 3 Buckeyes have won 92 straight conference matches and have been crowned Big Ten tournament champion each year for the past six seasons.
Match Results - ILL 4, MICH 0
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (5,3,4)