Senior Ryan Rowe accepts his runner-up trophy at the ITA National Indoor Championships.
Nov. 4, 2007
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Senior No. 9-ranked Ryan Rowe of the Illinois men's tennis team concluded his career-best run at the 2007 Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) National Indoor Championships with a runner-up finish behind top-seeded and No. 1-ranked Somdev Devvarman of Virginia, 7-6(2), 6-2. With today's appearance in the final, Rowe became the third Illini to advance into the championship match, second in the last four years at National Indoors, joining Amer Delic who did it in 2002 and Ryler DeHeart, the 2004 champion.
"This was a great tournament and weekend for Ryan and with back-to-back weekends of success, I think Ryan has solidified his place as one of the best players in the region and the country," associate head coach George Husack said. "The bottom line was Somdev was just a strong opponent that did a great job of not giving Ryan any openings in the match. I think Somdev had maybe two unforced errors in the opening set, so it definitely tested Ryan's patience. To Ryan's credit, he served really well and responded to the loss of the first set with some tough points in the second. In the end, Somdev is a tough player and just turned up his game down the stretch to win it."
Overall, Rowe has now made three national finals as a player, his two others in doubles, winning the NCAA doubles crown with partner Kevin Anderson in 2006 followed by a runner-up finish in 2007. Before today's match, Rowe's farthest advancement at an ITA Championship had been a quarterfinal run at the 2006 All-American Championships.
"Another testament to the growth and maturity of Ryan as a player, he did a great job of keeping his match preparation simple and the same from round to round," Husack said. " This weekend also shows just what type and caliber of game Ryan is capable of playing. Again, it is a testament to Ryan showing what kind of focused player he has become in his senior year."
With the win, Devvarman claimed his second national singles title, improving the Cavalier to 2-1 in finals appearances after the Virginia netter captured his first crown at the 2007 NCAA singles championship a year ago and was a NCAA runner-up in 2006.
The tournament recap for Rowe included a strong win over third-seeded and Polo Ralph Lauren/ITA All-American runner-up Robert Farah of USC in the opening round in straights, followed by a victory over Albert Larregola of Virginia Tech in a three-set marathon in the second round. In the quarters, the Illini senior derailed Miami's 19th-ranked Daniel Valverdu in straights before not dropping a set against 12th-ranked Adam Holmstrom of Denver in the semifinals. The weekend ended with the setback against top-seeded Devvarman.
Today's match opened with a pair of holds as Devvarman was first to serve in the championship battle. The Virginia netter quickly moved through his first service game before challenging Rowe for a break, but the Illini senior fended off two break points to level the contest, 1-all. Despite the early troubles, Rowe settled into the match from the service line - concluding the match with 12 aces overall - as he tossed in a variety of pace and sliders out wide in the opening points to level the match again, 3-all. The two netters then continued to stare each other down like a pair of heavyweights, each looking for the other to budge as the math pressed on, 5-all. However, neither player showed signs of flinching, as the opening set had to be settled in the breaker, marking Rowe's fourth match with a set going to a tiebreaker. There, Devvarman came firing and used minibreaks to take an early lead en route to claiming the opening frame, 7-6(2).
Down a set, Rowe opened with a strong service hold in the second set, 1-0. However, Devvarman was eager to use his lead in the match to his advantage as he pressured Rowe on his next service game and notched the first break of the match to take a 2-1 lead. Devvarman then kept the pressure on as he claimed an insurance break and the match's momentum to take a 5-1 lead down the stretch. Rowe managed a hold to return the pressure to Devvarman to serve it out, but with the end in sight, the Virginia netter cruised through his service game to claim the set, 6-2, and the match in straights.
The ITA National Indoor Championships marked the final tournament for the Illinois men's tennis team as it closed out its official fall schedule. Up next for Illinois, multiple Illini will be participating in the annual United States Tennis Association (USTA) JSM Challenger being hosted at the Atkins Tennis Center in Urbana, Ill., Nov. 10-17.
The Illini as a whole will next hit the courts in its home and season dual opener against Ball State on Jan. 18, at 6 p.m.
#9 Ryan Rowe (ILL) def. #3-Seed (#125) Robert Farah (USC) - 6-4, 7-6(6)
#9 Ryan Rowe (ILL) def. #100 Albert Larregola (VTECH) - 6-7(0), 6-2, 6-2
#9 Ryan Rowe (ILL) def. #19 Daniel Valverdu (MIAMI) - 7-5, 6-4
#9 Ryan Rowe (ILL) def. #12 Adam Holmstrom (DEN) - 7-6(7), 6-3
#1-seed (#1) Somdev Devvarman (UVA) def. #9 Ryan Rowe (ILL) - 7-6(2), 6-2