Illini Cruise Past Irish 5-2
For the first time in over two decades, the University of Illinois men's tennis team came away with a victory in South Bend, Ind., as the No.2 Illini defeated No. 26 Notre Dame, 5-2, today at Notre Dame's Courtney Tennis Center. The victory was U of I's second since 1978, with the previous win occuring last year when the sixth-ranked Illini beat the 14th-ranked Irish 4-3 in Champaign.
The Illini won the doubles point to begin the match as junior Jeff Laski (Lisle, IL/Naperville North) and freshman Jamal Parker (Denville, NJ/Newark Academy) defeated the duo of Trent Miller and Javier Taborga 8-5 at No. 2 doubles. The Illini duo of Oliver Freelove (Bromley, England/Seven Oaks) and Cary Franklin (Atlanta, GA/St. Pius X), ranked seventh nationally, made quick work of the No. 43 duo in the nation, Brian Patterson and Ryan Sachire, 8-5 to clinch the point. The victory put them in a tie with senior Gavin Sontag (Aurora, OH/Aurora) and Laski for the No. 7 spot for most doubles wins in a season with 21.
In singles action all eyes were on No. 9 Freelove, as he went the distance to defeat Ryan Sachire, ranked No. 2 nationally, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4. After gaining a 2-1 lead with the Freelove victory, the Illini extended their lead with the help of senior Jakub Teply's (Ft. Wayne, IN/Lake Mary) 6-4, 7-6 (5) victory over Andrew Laflin at the No. 4 spot, and freshman Mike Kosta's (Ann Arbor, MI/Huron) come-from-behind win over Casey Smith, 6-0, 1-6, 7-5, at the No. 5 position. The clinching win came at the No. 3 singles spot as Laski rallied to defeat Matt Daly, 7-5, 2-6, 6-4.
The Illini begin their Big Ten play as they host the University of Wisconsin, Saturday, April 3, at 1:00 p.m., at the Atkins Tennis Center.