Illinois 4, Louisville
Illinois 4, Louisville 1May 15, 2005
Urbana, Ill. The Illini won't have to worry about these kinds of cold conditions the rest of the season thanks to their 4-1 second round victory over Louisville in front of nearly 350 Illini supporters at Atkins Tennis Center on Sunday. The win sends the Illini to College Station, Texas, host of the NCAA Championships, where Illinois learned they will face No. 18 Florida St. at 3 p.m. CDT on Saturday, May 21. The Illini earned their sixth trip to the Championships in the last seven years with today's triumph and have now won 13 of their last 14 first weekend matches in the NCAA tournament (all hosted at Atkins). The Orange and Blue are now 25-3 on the season.
Today's match got off to a different kind of start than what was witnessed yesterday. The Illini, who have been unsteady at times this season in doubles, again showed their vulnerability today losing at No. 1 and 3 to drop the first point of the match. Pramod Dabir and Ryler DeHeart never could catch up after they were broken early in the match as they fell 8-6 to the Cardinals top attack of Jeremy Clark and Jakob Gustafsson. Freshman Ryan Rowe and senior Evan Zeder also found themselves in a similar situation at No. 3, as they failed to inch close enough falling 8-6 to Damar Johnson and Mark Kennedy. GD Jones and Chris Martin had their match abandoned at 5-6 against Octavian Nicodim and Slavko Radman.
"It was unacceptable to lose the doubles point, but we had a chat in the locker room and things changed during singles," head coach Craig Tiley said.. "They did a better job in singles and accomplished what they had said all year. They were hungry to get the job done today, making sure you win ever point you play and play every point like you want to win it."
The junior and senior got things off to the right start as singles began, taking a 2-1 lead to immediately demoralize the Cardinal assault. Dabir, playing at No. 6, played brilliantly winning in straight sets, 6-2, 6-1 over Louisville's Nicolas Houard. Martin quickly followed with a straight set winner of his own, 6-1, 6-3 against Clark. Freshman Monte Tucker delivered in his first NCAA tournament match, dropping only two games the entire match to Gustafsson, 6-0, 6-2.
The other freshman, Ruben Gonzales seems to have a flair for the dramatic, as he clinched the match with the deciding point at No. 4, 6-2, 6-3 over Nicodim. The Illini's top two guns, DeHeart and Jones had their matches abandoned before the conclusion of the match. DeHeart will now have to wait till College Station to attempt to tie the school record for wins (40) in a single season, the junior currently stands 39-9.
"Getting to the round of 16 is what we expected," Tiley said. "We are looking forward to playing Florida State on Saturday. It is going to be warmer, but we are going to be ready. I feel as if the pressure is off a little bit. Now we just have to go out and play, and get the job done."
The Illini's next opponent (Florida State) knocked off No. 12 seed Kentucky (4-2) on Sunday in the Round of 32. The Orange and Blue faced the Seminoles early this season at Atkins Tennis Center, where they were victorious 5-2 on Jan. 28.
No. 5 Illinois 4, Louisville 1
1. J. Clark/J. Gustafsson (LOU) def. P. Dabir/R. DeHeart (ILL) 8-6
2. C. Martin/GD Jones (ILL) vs. O. Nicodim/S. Radman (LOU) 6-5 (DNF)
3. D. Johnson/M. Kennedy (LOU) def. E. Zeder/R. Rowe (ILL) 8-6
Order of finish: 1, 3
1. #23 GD Jones (ILL) vs. #76 Damar Johnson (LOU) 6-3, 4-4 (DNF)
2. #8 Ryler DeHeart (ILL) vs. Slavko Radman (LOU) 6-3, 4-5 (DNF)
3. Monte Tucker (ILL) def. Jakob Gustafsson (LOU) 6-0, 6-2
4. Ruben Gonzales (ILL) def. Octavian Nicodim (LOU) 6-2, 6-3
5. Chris Martin (ILL) def. Jeremy Clark (LOU) 6-1, 6-3
6. Pramod Dabir (ILL) def. Nicolas Houard (LOU) 6-2, 6-1
Order of finish: 6, 5, 3, 4
-- Courtesy UIUC