Indiana Falls to No. 3 Illinois Despite Taking Three Singles Matches to Brink
Feb. 25, 2006
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The No. 69 Indiana men's tennis team hung tough against No. 3 Illinois, before falling, 7-0, to the defending conference champions at the Atkins Tennis Center on Feb. 25. Illinois claimed the doubles point, but the Hoosiers took three singles affairs to three-sets before they were swept by a roster that boasts a singles lineup that currently includes four nationally-ranked singles players with a combined singles record of 98-36 (.731) and doubles record of 60-16 (.789) entering the contest with IU. Illinois improved to 9-1 on the year, while the Hoosiers fell to 5-4.
"We played better in a losing effort against a good team," Indiana head coach Ken Hydinger said. "We need to start putting together some wins. We are competitive against a top-notch opponent, but it really doesn't mean too much until we learn to close people out. We can carry that level of play over to the next match. We cannot start defining our season by losses. We need to use matches like this as a building process. Sunday's match against Purdue is an important one for us, and we will go in there and fight to get victory."
The Hoosiers opened the match by dropping all three doubles spots. The fifth-ranked Illini duo of Kevin Anderson and Ryan Rowe defeated senior Dmytro Ishtuganov and sophomore Dara McLoughlin, 8-3, at the No. 1 slot to claim the point. Sophomore Michael McCarthy and redshirt freshman Mak Kendall dropped an 8-3 decision at the No. 3 positions to Pramod Dabir and Brandon Davis, which gave Illinois an early lead. Ruben Gonzales and Marc Spicijaric rounded out the sweep with a win over freshman Peter Antons and junior David Bubenicek, 8-3.
Illinois wrapped up the team victory with three straight-sets victories in singles. The Illini notched wins at the No. 6, No. 3 and No. 5 positions to sew up the team win.
Indiana battled tough in the other three singles affairs, forcing them to third sets. At the No. 1 position, Ishtuganov dropped the first set 6-4 to No. 6 Kevin Anderson. The Kiev, Ukraine native rebounded to win the second, 6-2, before falling in a third-set super tiebreaker, 10-8. Anderson improved to 15-1 on the year with six wins over ranked foes, while Ishtuganov fell to 13-7 on the year, including a 6-3 mark at the No. 1 slot.
Bubenicek, who played his second straight match at the No. 2 position, battled tough with No. 71 G.D. Jones. The Hoosier dropped the first set in a tiebreaker before battling back to claim a 7-5 victory in the second. He succumbed to the Illini's former No. 1 player in a third-set super tiebreaker. The loss snapped a three-match winning streak for Bubenicek, who fell to 13-4 on the year.
Senior Neil Kenner dropped a three-set match at the No. 4 spot. Playing Rowe, who formerly was ranked in the national top 100, Kenner fell in the first set, but rebounded to claim the second 6-4. In the third and final set, Rowe defeated the Hoosier captain, 6-3, to claim the final point of the match.
The Hoosiers return to action against No. 67 Purdue on Sunday, Feb. 26, at noon. The rivalry between IU and Purdue continues the 2005-06 AT&T Crimson and Gold Cup series and a point will be available when Indiana travels to West Lafayette, Ind. The Hoosiers own a 6.5-3 advantage this season in the all-sport competition.
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