Illini Advance to Semis of Blue Gray Classic
In its first outdoor event of the season, the University of Illinois men's tennis team continued its impressive play by defeating No. 30 Tulane, 5-1, today to move into the semifinal round of the Blue Gray Classic in Montgomery, Ala. The Illini, the top seed in the tournament and ranked second nationally, improve to 12-1 on the season, their best start since opening at 12-0 in 1955.
"This was a hard-fought match that was much closer than the score indicates," said Head Coach Craig Tiley. "Our goals were to be positive and tough and we accomplished that today against a very good Tulane team. Now we look forward to playing in the semifinals tomorrow."
The Illini won two of three doubles matches to claim an early 1-0 lead and then battled for four singles victories. Junior Cary Franklin played another great match, improving to 12-1 in all dual matches by rallying for a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, win over Dennis Lundberg at No. 2 singles. For the second straight day, senior Jakub Teply scored the clinching victory by sweeping past Tulane's Chris Ortner, 6-4, 6-2, at the No. 4 position. Teply currently leads the team with 25 singles wins on the year and is 9-2 in dual-match action.
Illinois advances to the round of four in this prestigious tournament for the first time in school history, after falling in the second round each of the last two years. Last season, the top-seeded Illini were upset in the round of eight before finishing 2-1 on the weekend.
The Fighting Illini will battle No. 19 Texas A&M, the No. 4 seed, on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. The winner will advance to the championship match on Sunday, March 21, at noon. The Blue Gray Classic runs from March 18-21 and includes seven of the top 30 teams in the country.