Alum advances in Grand Slam event

By Amber Greviskes

For the second time in his career, Amer Delic has reached the second round of the singles tournament at a Grand Slam event. Delic, Illinois’ lone NCAA singles champion, defeated Italy’s Potito Starace in the first round of the Australian Open.

“It’s just great, he’s got a great draw and I’m sure he can do it,” said Illinois head coach Brad Dancer.

Delic, a member of the 2003 NCAA title-winning team and a three-time All-American while at Illinois, ousted Starace from the tournament 7-5, 6-7 (3), 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. He originally won a wild card entry into the Australian Open after winning a six-man tournament at the Evert Tennis Academy in Boca Raton, Fla., in December. The United States Tennis Association gave Australian Mark Philippoussis a main draw wild card into last year’s U.S. Open. Tennis Australia then gave a main draw wild card to the USTA.

Delic’s first Grand Slam win came in 2004 at the U.S. Open when he beat Janko Tipsarevic 6-1, 6-3, 6-4. In 2005, Delic reached the third round in doubles at the U.S. Open with Jeff Morrison. He played in the qualifying tournament as well, but failed to make the main draw.

In the second round, Delic will face Nathan Healey of Australia. Delic topped Healey 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (12) when they met in the round of 32 at the Dallas Challenger last February. Healey reached the second round with a 6-2, 6-3, ret., victory over Filippo Volandri of Italy.

Former Illini Rajeev Ram will also compete in Australia during the doubles tournament. Ram, who won the NCAA doubles title in 2003 with Brian Wilson, will compete with Gaston Etlis of Argentina. Etlis has played in six Australian Opens, his best doubles results coming in 2003 and 2004 when he reached the semifinals. They take on the No.14-seeded team of Travis Parrott and Jordan Kerr in the first round. Parrott won the NCAA doubles title in 2001 while at Georgia with Matias Boeker.

Ram played in the qualifying singles tournament as well, but lost in the second round. He handed former Baylor standout and 2005 NCAA singles champion Benedikt Dorsch a 7-6(4), 7-6 (3)) loss before losing to Olivier Patience of France.

“This is their dream, this is all of their dreams growing up,” Dancer said. “We’d like to keep the forward vision here. We’re going to keep putting players out there (at the professional level) that are getting the job done.”