Illinois advances to Indoor Sweet 16
Illini rally after doubles point loss in second consecutive match
URBANA, Ill. - After falling behind 1-0 following doubles action for the second consecutive match, the top-seeded Illini (2-1) again relied on strong singles play to key a 4-1 victory against third-seeded Notre Dame (2-2) on Saturday at Atkins Tennis Center. With the win, Illinois advances to the Sweet 16 of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships hosted by the University of Washington, Feb. 18-21 in Seattle.
"Tonight, we had six guys throwing it all there," head coach Brad Dancer said. "Notre Dame is a very good team. We have to play better in doubles and we have to be more aggressive in singles. Having said that, how you finish is the important thing. We finished strong and I think a huge part of that goes to our conditioning and fitness and our guys' belief in our training systems. I'm immensely proud of them."
After dropping the doubles point, the Illini went on to fall in the first set in five of six singles matches. Junior Dennis Nevolo earning the lone first-set victory, before falling in the second set. With a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line, Illinois stormed back to force a decisive third set in each match.
Sophomore KU Singh, who was down as many as two games in the second set, got the ball rolling with a 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 victory against No. 71 Stephen Havens, before junior Roy Kalmanovich collected a win against Samuel Keeton, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 to give the Illini a 2-1 advantage. No. 11 Nevolo held off No. 104 Casey Watt, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, in the third set to record his 17th win of the year and senior Abe Souza captured his 16th consecutive home win and clinched the match for the Illini with a victory against Greg Andrews, 6-7 (3), 6-3, 7-6 (4).