Illini Extend Big Ten Dominance at Northwestern
The University of Illinois men's tennis team extended its school-record Big Ten winning streak to 21 matches by routing Northwestern, 6-1, in Evanston on Saturday. The Illini won five of six singles matches and two of three doubles matches to improve to 10-1 on the year and 2-0 in conference.
"The guys really responded well, particularly without Gavin (Sontag) in the lineup," said Head Coach Craig Tiley. "Our upperclassmen stepped it up and the freshmen followed. Northwestern is a tough place to play and this is probably our biggest margin of victory against them."
The Illini unveiled a new No. 2 doubles team in the absence of Sontag, out 6-8 weeks with a broken hip. Jeff Laski, who normally teams with Sontag as the No. 6 duo in the nation, teamed with freshman Jamal Parker for the first time this season to eke out a 9-8 victory at No. 2 doubles over NU's pair of Erickson/Hol. At the top spot, Illinois' No. 1 team of Oliver Freelove and Cary Franklin, the No. 15 duo in the country, edged the team of Bengtsson/Bohaboy, 8-6.
With the 1-0 advantage, the Illini quickly swept to two straight-set wins to make it 3-0. Franklin continued his dual-match dominance, improving to 10-1 at the No. 2 spot, by routing Brad Erickson, 6-2, 6-1. Laski rolled Martin Bengtsson, 6-2, 6-3, at No. 3 singles. Illinois earned three-set wins at the Nos. 1, 4, and 6 spots to clinch the match and seal a 6-1 win.
The Fighting Illini will open the outdoor season in two weeks in Montgomery, Ala., as Illinois will participate in the prestigious Blue Gray Classic from March 18-21