Illini Dominate Alabama in Top-25 Clash
In a battle of two highly ranked teams, the No. 5 University of Illinois (3-0) men's tennis squad routed No. 21 Alabama (3-1) at the Atkins Tennis Center today, winning five of six singles matches and all three doubles matches in the 6-1 victory. The Illini have now won 12 straight matches at home, tying the record for the second longest home winning streak in school history.
"As expected, none of the matches were easy today," said Head Coach Craig Tiley. "Both doubles and singles were close and the match could have gone either way. Our goal today was to stay consistent, regardless of the emotion of the match, from beginning to end and that's why we finished strong."
The match was contentious from the first doubles matchup, as Illinois' duo of Oliver Freelove (Bromley, England/Seven Oaks) and Cary Franklin (Atlanta, Ga./St. Pius X), rated 12th in the country, blew past Alabama's pair of Ariel Rivero and Francisco Rodriguez, rated No. 22, in No. 1 singles, 8-4. The Illini also swept two other doubles matches to take the early 1-0 advantage.
The Illini continued to pour it on in singles, as Franklin dominated Rivero, 6-4, 6-4, at the No. 2 spot and Jeff Laski (Lisle, Ill./Naperville North) swept past Alabama's Mason Snider, 6-4, 6-3, at No. 3 singles. Gavin Sontag (Aurora, Ohio/Aurora) earned the clinching win and pushed the lead to 4-0 with a 7-6(5), 6-4, win over Graydon Oliver at the No. 3 spot. With the match already in hand, Illinois dropped only one match, at the No. 1 spot, while winning two three-set matches at No. 5 and 6 singles.
The Fighting Illini continue a tough homestand on Saturday, as Illinois opens the Big Ten season against No. 23 Minnesota at 2 p.m. at the Atkins Tennis Center. The Orange and Blue have won a school-record 19 consecutive Big Ten dual-matches and will put that amazing streak on the line tomorrow. Free pizza and drinks will be available and fans will have the chance to win door prizes.
Illinois 6, Alabama 1