Freelove Cruises Into NCAA Second Round
Illinois senior Oliver Freelove advanced to the second round of the NCAA Singles Championship with a 6-1, 6-4 victory today over Duke's Doug Root despite a rain delay at Henry Field Stadium in Athens, Ga. Freelove avenged an earlier loss to Root and improved to 36-15 on the season to move into second place on the Illinois career victory list.
"Oliver played a focused match today," head coach Craig Tiley said. "He followed his plan and kept the momentum despite the rain delay. Once the rain stopped, he came back and closed the match out. Oliver is playing well right now but tomorrow will be another tough match."
The two opponents had already played once this season, as Root earned a 6-2, 7-5 win at the Atkins Tennis Center in a dual match on February 14. Freelove, a 9-16 seed, jumped out quickly today, breaking Root's serve twice and holding his own serve to claim the first set 6-1.
In the second set, the UI senior again broke Root's serve to build a 3-2 advantage, only to see the Duke netter break right back to even the score at 3-3. As rain began to fall, Freelove wasted a break point in the seventh game as Root forced deuce and gained a game point before the weather halted the match. After a 20-minute delay, the two players returned and Root held serve for a 4-3 lead. The rest of the match went Freelove's way, as he held serve and then broke Root's serve for the fourth time for a 5-4 lead. The Illini senior then served out the match for the win.
Freelove's 36 wins now lead the team and rank second on the UI single-season list, behind Gavin Sontag's 40 wins last year. On the Illinois career list for most singles wins, Freelove moves into second place with a record of 118-61, surpassing fellow-senior Jakub Teply who ended his career with 117 wins. Sontag is the current record holder with 120 wins.
In the round of 32 on Thursday morning, Freelove will face either Cory Guy of UCSB or Jerome Jourdan of South Carolina, who play later today. Freelove will then open doubles play with teammate Cary Franklin, along with the UI duo of Sontag and Jeff Laski on Thursday afternoon. The championship match for both singles and doubles will be Sunday, May 30.
NCAA Singles Championship
Oliver Freelove (9-16 seed), Illinois def. Doug Root, Duke - 6-1, 6-4
NCAA Doubles Championship (beginning Thurs.)