Illini’s Jones advances to quarterfinals

GD Jones returns a volley during the first round of the NCAA Men´s Tennis Championship at the Atkins Tennis Center on May 15. Online Poster

GD Jones returns a volley during the first round of the NCAA Men´s Tennis Championship at the Atkins Tennis Center on May 15. Online Poster

By Amber Greviskes

Illinois associate head coach Brad Dancer got a sneak peek of what the future holds for the men’s tennis team at the U.S. Open, and he was impressed.

Illini sophomore GD Jones advanced to the second round of the U.S. Open Juniors singles tournament in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., last week.

“I think in his first match he was incredibly focused,” said Dancer, who joined the Illinois coaching staff Aug. 24.

Jones defeated Mykyta Kryvonos of the United States in the first round 4-6, 6-4, 6-0.

“I was a little slow in the first set and it showed,” Jones said after the match in a press release. “I hit some big shots in the second set and started to find some flaws in his game, which really wore him down the rest of the way.”

In the second round, Jones wasn’t as lucky. Second-seeded Andreas Beck of Germany topped Jones 6-2, 6-1. Athletes who compete in juniors tournaments must be 18 years old or younger, but may be professional.

“He did well in the first set and then showed a little bit of nerves in the second, but (Beck) played great,” Dancer said.

This marked Jones’ first appearance in the U.S. Open. However, the experience will be highlighted by his doubles performance. Jones and William Ward, both of New Zealand, reached the quarterfinals of that event.

Jones and Ward took eventual champions Brendan Evans and Scott Oudsema, both of the United States, to three sets in the quarterfinals. Evans and Oudsema defeated Jones and Ward 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Evans and Jones have met at Grand Slam Junior tournaments before. Evans defeated Jones in the third round of the Wimbledon Juniors singles tournament earlier this summer.

Dancer said he believes Jones’ experiences at the U.S. Open and Wimbledon Juniors tournaments will prove invaluable throughout Jones’ collegiate career. He also expects that Jones will be a great asset to the team, both this season and in the future, as his maturity develops.

“I think he’s starting to realize that his game is on the world stage at the junior level,” Dancer said.

The Illini travel to Napa Valley, Calif., this weekend for their first tournament of the fall season. The tournament also marks the first time the team will be assembled for practice.