#38 Indiana Falls Short at #16 Illinois, 5-2
April 13, 2008
URBANA, Ind. - The #38 Indiana University men's tennis team (14-7, 4-4 Big Ten) pushed 16th-ranked and 2007 NCAA Runner-up Illinois (14-7, 6-2) to the brink of defeat on Sunday before eventually falling in a 5-2 decision on the road.
"The freshmen were unbelievable today," said Head Coach Randy Bloemendaal. "There were over 700 people there, but it didn't faze the freshmen. They fought hard, extremely hard."
Seniors Dara McLoughlin and Thomas Richter were the first Hoosier tandem to conclude their doubles match, recording their eighth consecutive doubles win by defeating Marc Spicijaric and Ruben Gonzales by a score of 8-6. The No. 1 doubles match was also an 8-5 final, but this time in favor of the Fighting Illini. A tiebreaker at 8-8 in the third doubles contest determined the team doubles point in the end. Illinois jumped ahead 1-0 after arising victorious in that tiebreaker.
Eilers' 6-1, 6-3 dominance over Spicijaric in the third singles match quickly evened the team score at 1-1. Illinois victories at first and fifth singles then put them back ahead 3-1.
"Eilers did all the right things, he was unreal," said Bloemendaal. "He was key today, really key. He played a level that I had never even seen before. I am so proud of Phillip Eilers right now. I can't explain how well he carried the pressure today, just did all the right things."
Fellow freshman Santiago Gruter filled the No. 6 singles slot and trimmed the IU deficit to 3-2 with his 7-5, 6-4 triumph over Connor Roth. The Cream and Crimson needed the final two singles matches as well to squeeze by for a 4-3 winner. Both of those battles went into a third set before each ending in 6-4 decisions for the Fighting Illini, capping off the 5-2 Illinois win.
"Gruter fought hard today," said Bloemendaal. "He hung in there tight and got the win. We had our chances to win this match. We are right there, so close."
The Hoosiers finish off the regular season slate next weekend with a pair of home matches.
Check back soon