URBANA, Ill. – For the sixth time in the last 10 matches between Illinois and Kentucky, the match was decided by one point. This time around it was the 16th-ranked Illini on the winning end, as they outlasted the No. 12 Wildcats 4-3 Friday night at Atkins Tennis Center. Illinois (4-2) captured the doubles point for the first time this season, which proved to be the difference in the match.
“There was a lot of tension in this match tonight,” Illinios head coach Brad Dancer said. “I think the nerves and anxiety were high. Our guys understood the value of this match. We came through on enough courts, including the doubles point, which was obviously a big factor tonight. I think Kentucky’s a great team, but I think we can play better than we did tonight.”
Kentucky (6-2) claimed the first doubles match at the No. 1 spot, before senior Connor Roth and sophomore Stephen Hoh held off a late Wildcat rally to claim their fourth win of the season with an 8-6 defeat of Tom Jomby and Alberto Gonzalez. On court three, junior Dennis Nevolo and sophomore Bruno Abdelnour finally broke Alex Musialek and Anthony Rossi at six-all and went on to secure the point with an 8-6 win.
The Wildcats struck first again at No. 1 singles, but No. 111 senior Johnny Hamui quickly responded at the three spot to give Illinois a 2-1 advantage with a straight-set victory against Brad Cox, 6-3, 6-4. Junior Roy Kalmanovich extended the lead to 3-1 with his first win of the season agianst a nationally ranked opponent, as he defeated No. 72 Alberto Gonzalez, 7-6 (5), 6-4 to pull the Illini within one point of the match.
No. 121 senior Abe Souza completed the upset with one of the most exciting matches of the night, as he topped No. 39 Musialek, 6-4, 6-4, to clinch the win for the Illini.