Head coach Brad Dancer notes improvements for his young Illini after solid weekend in Florida.
Oct. 8, 2007
BRADENTON, Fla. - Freshman Illinois men's tennis players Connor Roth and Abe Souza concluded a successful weekend at the Nick Bollettieri Invite in Bradenton, Fla., running Oct. 5-7. Souza had a standout effort in singles, going 4-2 overall, while the pair was perfect in doubles, posting a 2-0 ledger.
"We had an excellent weekend down in Florida," head coach Brad Dancer said. " Our guys each got six singles matches in and showed improvement in the doubles. I felt that both players' best matches were their sixth matches, which is what we came here for, to improve over the course of the weekend. Like last year for others on our squad, this weekend can be a catalyst for creating momentum and confidence as a competitor. I credit Scott Treibly (tournament director) for incorporating a format that creates pressure situations."
The format of the tournament included six singles matches and two doubles tilts, with singles following a pro-set to 10 format with no add scoring, while doubles was an eight game pro-set with no add scoring.
For Souza, he opened singles with a win over Peter Marrack of Wisconsin, 10-6, before falling in a close 11-10 contest to Gabriel Mattos of Central Florida. On the second day of the Invite, he rebounded to outlast Robert Jendelund of Armstrong State, 10-7, before suffering a 10-6 setback to Dan Cash of Florida. The loss would be his last, as ended on a two-match win streak with victories over Eduardo Saavedra of Temple, 10-3, and Rafael Array of Armstrong State, 10-8.
For Roth, his road proved to be challenging as he carded a 2-4 singles mark. However, the young Illini was able to score hard-fought contests in his victories, cruising to 10-2 wins over Ervin Garbovic of Florida Gulf Coast and Ted Tywang of Georgetown.
In doubles, the pair came together nicely as they gutted out a 9-8 win over Florida's established pair of Geoffrey Barton and Nestor Briceno, the No. 3 doubles tandem for the Gators who advanced to the NCAAs' Sweet 16 last season. The win was then backed up by an outstanding effort against Sinan Sudas and Gabriel Mattos of Central Florida. The Illini pair was leading 6-3 before UCF's tandem had to retire.
"As always, we come away from a tournament like this with a list of things we executed well and areas that broke down," Dancer said. "This weekend was no exception. However, because we played against six different opponents, the depth of that information is far greater."
Illinois now prepares for a busy weekend of competition, as the Illini roster will split up to compete at possibly three different tournaments. Those destinations include the Kentucky Tournament, taking place in Lexington, Ky., Oct. 13-15, the Racquet Club Collegiate Invitational in Midland, Texas, Oct. 12-14, and the USTA 50,000 Challenger hosted in Calabasas, Calif., Oct. 13-21.