Illini Produce Exciting Finishes at Texas A&M Challenge
Oct. 13, 2013
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The Illinois men's tennis team ventured down to Texas this weekend to take on Harvard and host Texas A&M in a tri-school Conference Challenge held at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center. The Illini went a combined 7-5 in doubles and 8-8 in singles play. The Challenge comprised of two rounds of doubles and one round of singles play on Friday, followed by one round of each on Saturday.
"It was a great start to the weekend with some incredibly exciting finishes to matches," Illinois head coach Brad Dancer stated. "A&M and Harvard both played some high level tennis and pushed each one of our guys. It was disappointing that we didn't get to finish some of the last round of singles as there were some compelling matches underway."
Friday immediately started off with a tough test for No. 10 Ross Guignon and Tim Kopinski as they drew the third best doubles team in the country with Ore/Withrow from Texas A&M. It was a back and forth contest that was fought deep into a tiebreaker, but it was Ore/Withrow who emerged victorious at the last second, 8-7(7).
Guignon/Kopinski bounced back later in the day with a 8-5 win over Harvard's Yeung/Hu. However, the Illini duo would once again fall victim in the tiebreaker on Saturday, this time to No. 20 Nguyen/MacMasters of Harvard, 8-7(4).
Speaking of tiebreaker battles, that's how the team of No. 56 Jared Hiltzik and Alex Jesse lived by at the Challenge, facing all A&M teams in the process. After a bump in the road Friday morning with an 8-7(10) loss to Szabo/Efferding, the Orange and Blue tandem defeated Colunga/Montague 8-7(4). Hiltzik/Jesse then avenged Guignon/Kopinski with a 8-7(7) victory over No. 3 Ore/Withrow.
In addition, this weekend saw the debut of the doubles pairing of Farris Gosea and Blake Bazarnik, who went 2-1. Meanwhile Julian Childers and Brian Page once again teamed up for the second time this Fall and went 2-1 as well.
"Coach Rowe seems to be helping our doubles progress as the guys responded to some of the concepts he's been discussing with them. Alex Jesse stood out handling some pressure situations with a bit more calmness," continued Dancer.
The Fighting Illini displayed mix results in singles as they went 5-3 on day one but 3-5 on day two.
The Illini's two ranked singles players, No. 17 Jared Hiltzik and No. 121 Tim Kopinski, both went 1-1 on the weekend. Hiltzik picked up a ranked win over No. 67 Harrison Adams of A&M in round one. However, he then came up short to Harvard's Dennis Nguyen who got the best of the sophomore in a three-set battle, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4. Furthermore, Kopinski gained a day one victory over Harvard's Sebastian Beltrame but couldn't complete the sweep and earn the upset against A&M's No. 11 Jeremy Efferding, losing 6-0, 6-3.
Both Farris Gosea and Ross Guignon return from Texas with 2-0 singles records from the Challenge. Gosea picked up a big ranked win over No. 78 Junior Ore from A&M, 6-3, 1-6, 6-1. Gosea then cruised to a 6-1, 6-1 win over Harvard's Nicky Hu.
After earning a a hard fought win over Harvard's Kelvin Lam, 2-6, 7-5, 6-4, junior Ross Guignon followed suit with a 6-1, 6-4 win over A&M's Jordan Szabo.
The Illinois men's tennis team has a short turnaround, returning to action Thursday Oct. 17 for the ITA Midwest Regionals, hosted by Ohio State in Columbus.
SECOND ROUND DOUBLES - 10/11
THIRD ROUND DOUBLES - 10/12
FIRST ROUND SINGLES - 10/11
SECOND ROUND SINGLES - 10/12