Former Illini Rajeev Ram (pictured) will face another Fighting Illini Kevin Anderson today.
Nov. 13, 2007
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Donald Young's first professional experience in his home state of Illinois was a successful one, as he used his unique brand of shots to knock off Harel Levy, 6-4, 7-6 on the first day of the main draw at the JSM Challenger of Champaign-Urbana. The 18-year-old former world junior #1 was down a break of serve in both sets, but battled back with aggressive, if not overpowering, shots to earn the victory.
"I knew he was a tough player," Young said of Levy. "That puts a lot of pressure on me to play well. You can't miss that many balls against a player like that."
The win puts Young one step closer to his goal of finishing the year inside the top 100 in the world, which also gives him direct acceptance in to the Australian Open in January. He's joined in the second round by former Illini Brian Wilson, a 6-2, 6-3 winner over Jesse Witten. Wilson took his chances to get himself to the net, finding opportunities to craft deft volleys in the easy victory.
"I'm pretty happy with the way I played," Wilson said. "I had good energy, I stayed focused, and stayed aggressive. That's my style. Jesse missed some shots he normally makes, but I hope that part of that was because of the way I played."
Kevin Anderson and Ryan Rowe, the 2005 NCAA Doubles Champions while at the University of Illinois, struggled in their match Monday, falling to Alex Kuznetsov and Scott Oudsema in straight sets. Rajeev Ram, another former Illini, did move on in doubles with partner Bobby Reynolds, 6-0, 6-4 over Nikita Kryvonos and Michael McClune.
The play of Wilson and Young will be strongly contrasted with the singles play on Tuesday, as some of the big bombers in the JSM Challenger will be in action, starting with the top seed, Amer Delic. The 2003 NCAA Singles Champion while at the Universityof Illinois battles qualifier Luka Gregorc in the night's feature match at 8:00PM. Another top notch server, John Isner, plays at 4:30. The former Georgia Bulldog has raced up the ATP rankings this summer, improving a stunning 721 spots from May until this week. He's the fifth seed in this tournament.
In all, a total of five current or former Illini are in action on Tuesday. Rowe starts off the evening action with a match against 2006 Challenger Finalist Zack Fleishman. That's followed on court two with a match between two former Illini, and two former NCAA Doubles Champions, as Kevin Anderson battles Rajeev Ram. Simultaneously, on court one, Ryler De Heart will compete in doubles.
Tournament Director Jim Tressler has also set a time for the Finals on Saturday. They will begin at 5PM. A determination on the order of play will be made on Friday, depending on whether or not a player makes both Finals.
The top six seeds, in order, are Amer Delic, Robert Kendrick, Donald Young, Bobby Reynolds, John Isner, and Zack Fleishman. All are inside the top 130 in the world. Delic faced Fleishman in the final here last year. A complete draw sheet is available at www.illinoischallenger.com.
Admission in to the $50,000 2007 JSM Challenger of Champaign-Urbana is free through Wednesday. Tickets for the remaining days are available at the door, or by calling (217) 244-3318.
Qualifying Singles, Qualifying Round
#5 Luka Gregorc (SLO) def. #2 Daniel King-Turner (NZL) 2-6, 6-3, 6-4
#3 Nikita Kryvonos (USA) def. Brian Baker (USA) 6-3, 6-4
#6 Phillip Simmonds (USA) def. Travis Rettenmaier (USA) 2-6, 6-1, 6-4
#1 Izak van der Merwe (RSA) def. #7 Michael McClune (USA) 7-5, 6-4
Qualifying Doubles, Qualifying Round
Brian Baker/Phillip Simmonds (USA) def. #2 Brian Battistone/Dann Battistone (USA) 6-3, 6-3
Main Draw Singles, First Round
Leonardo Mayer (ARG) def. Jamie Baker (GBR) 7-6 (5), 6-2
Benedikt Dorsch (GER) def. Ricardo Mello (BRA) 7-6 (4), 6-0
Brian Wilson (USA) def. Jesse Witten (USA) 6-2, 6-3
#2 Robert Kendrick (USA) def Alberto Francis (USA) 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-4
#3 Donald Young (USA) def. Harel Levy (ISR) 6-4, 7-5
Ilia Bozoljac (SRB) def. Ryler De Heart (USA) 6-4, 6-4
Main Draw Doubles, First Round
Kevin Anderson(RSA)/Ryan Rowe (USA) def. Alex Kuznetsov/Scott Oudsema (USA) 6-3, 6-4
#1 Rajeev Ram/Bobby Reynolds (USA) def. Nikita Kryvonos/Michael McClune (USA) 6-0, 6-4
Tuesday's Highlighted Matches:
(All Times After 10AM Approximate)
4:30PM - #5 John Isner vs. Phillip Simmonds and Ryan Rowe vs. Zack Fleishman
6:00PM - Rajeev Ram vs. Kevin Anderson
6:30PM - Ryler De Heart/Izak van der Merwe vs. Dosch/Tecau
8:00PM - Amer Delic vs. Luka Gregorc
Brian Wilson on his first win here in 3 years:
"I've had a couple of tough draws here, playing Guccione two years ago, and Kendrick last year. Both are top 100 players. I always play well. But I just haven't been able to put it together for a couple matches."
On the possibility of getting one more win:
"It'll help me ranking wise to make a quarterfinal, obviously. But it will also give me some confidence going in to the offseason and that's a huge thing."
"It's an amazing thing when you're confidence is up, you just expect to win the big points. We've won the last two tournaments, and we felt good out there. We came out swinging and got off to a great start. We did pretty well I thought."
On playing Kevin Anderson for the fourth time in two months:
"It's hard, because there are no surprises any more. It just comes down to execution. The level of play might not be as high because you're both thinking so much about it. It's a tough match, obviously. He's played here before. I've played here before. It'll be a good one."
Ryler De Heart:
"I couldn't get a break tonight. I felt like nothing was going my way on the court. There were just a couple of things that were out of my control, and then I didn't capitalize on my chances. But I've just got to keep trying to improve."
Donald Young on his need for success this week:
"It's very important for me to play well this week. I don't really want to go to Knoxville for Thanksgiving. If I can do well here, I'll be happy. It would be amazing to be able to get a direct acceptance in to a grand slam on my ranking. I feel I'm playing well enough. I had a great summer, playing some good tennis. I feel I can play with these guys right now."
Kevin Anderson on another match with Rajeev Ram:
"It's funny that it happens like that sometimes. I know what to expect from, and he knows what to expect from me. I'm not going to pull any surprises, and the same with him. But I'm really going to be focused and ready to go tomorrow."
"I think we lost six of eight of those no-ad points. Kevin didn't serve the best, and we didn't make shots when we needed to. I double faulted on one. They made some OK shots, but in the end, we had too many errors."