May 8, 2009

Courtesy of Western Michigan Athletics

URBANA, Ill. - The Western Michigan men's tennis team ran into one of the best teams in the country in the first round of the 2009 NCAA Men's Tennis Championships and fell to host and No. 13 Illinois, 4-0, at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex on Friday afternoon. The Broncos were playing in their fourth straight NCAA Tournament and seventh in school history. This was the third time in school history (2004, 2007) that WMU has played at Illinois in the opening round.

The Broncos (18-9) won their opening service game at each of the three doubles matches against the Big Ten runner-up Illini (22-8), but couldn't keep the momentum. The No. 21 team of Dennis Nevolo and Ruan Roelofse built a 5-1 lead at No. 1, the No. 41 team of Marc Spicijaric and Marek Czerwinski went up 6-1 at No. 2 and Meedo El Tabakh went up 3-1 at No. 3.

Casey Cullen and Pablo Olivarez fought back at No. 3 doubles to pull within 5-4 and 6-5, but their match was abandoned after matches at No. 1 and 2 were completed.

Kazuya Komada and Michael Calderone came back at No. 1 to pull within 6-3 until Illinois finished off the match, 8-4, in the first match to be completed. Kevin Hayward and Zeyad Montasser made a late comeback at No. 2 after falling behind to 6-1 to close within 6-4. Illinois regrouped and won, 8-4, to clinch the doubles point.

The Illini continued to put on the pressure during singles, but not without a fight.

No. 50 Roy Kalmanovich picked up the second point for the Illini with a fast, but close 6-3, 6-4 win over Calderone at No. 2.

Hayward played No. 73 Spicijaric and went back-and-forth in the first set before falling 6-3, 6-1 at No. 1.

The match came down to No. 3 where Komada battled point-for-point with No. 39 Nevolo, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, and actually was up a break in the second set before going down 6-2, 6-2.

In the matches remaining on the court, Olivarez lost the first set at No. 6, but was serving for the second set, 5-4, when play was halted.

Montasser led early in the second set against Abe Souza at No. 5 and Cullen had battled back from a 5-0 deficit in the first set and was involved in several tight games in the second set.

Illinois advances to play No. 21 Louisville in the second round on Saturday.