Illini Dominate UW to Extend Big Ten Streak
The University of Illinois men's tennis team, ranked No. 2 in the country, continued to roll over Big Ten competition today, as the Illini routed Wisconsin, 7-0, at the Atkins Tennis Center. The Orange and Blue have now won a school-record 22 straight conference matches and 16 straight at home.
"Every Big Ten team considers us their match of the season because on paper, we should win," said senior Oliver Freelove. "But we just took care of business and defended our home court."
The Illini swept all three doubles contests to claim the doubles point for the seventh straight match. At the top spot, Illinois' No. 7 duo of Freelove and Cary Franklin won for the seventh straight time, defeating UW's Loughrin/Schumacher, 8-5. At the No. 2 spot, the pair of Jeff Laski and Jamal Parker improved to 7-0 on the year by rallying from a 7-4 deficit to win, 9-8(2), over Reist/Chang.
Illinois quickly claimed the match by winning in straight-sets at five of the six singles positions. The clinching win came at the No. 6 spot, as Arnaud Lantin defeated UW's Bobby Croll, 6-1, 6-4.
The highlight of the day came in a match that meant nothing towards the final team score. With the match already clinched, Illinois' No. 9 player in the country, Freelove, went to three sets against Wisconsin's No. 35 player in the country, Mark Loughrin.
After dropping the first set, Freelove rallied to win the second set and both players held serve to a 5-5 tie in the third set. The Illini senior wasted three break points in the 11th game, as Loughrin held serve to take a 6-5 lead. Freelove battled off two match points, both with booming aces, to knot the score at 6-6 and sent it to a tiebreaker, where he held on for the 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(3) win.
The Illini are now 15-2 on the year, 3-0 in conference, and host Iowa on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Atkins Tennis Center.