Rowe’s run finished at Challenger, not unnoticed

 

 

By Jim Shay

After a surprise run to the quarterfinals, the field at the 2007 JSM Challenger finally managed to get the better of Ryan Rowe.

The Illinois senior’s tear through the singles draw was cut short on Thursday night by Ilia Bozoljac, 6-4, 6-3.

In front of a hometown crowd that was far from indifferent, Rowe traded games with Bozoljac early in the first set before the Serb used his overpowering backhand to slowly pull away. Rowe was pesky but inconsistent in his third singles match of the tournament and struggled at times to find accurate ball placement.

In the end, it was Bozoljac’s precision and deadly backhand that eliminated Rowe from the tournament.

“He just played better tennis than me today,” Rowe said. “I was able to make him play it up, and he came with better shots on bigger points.”

Though Rowe lost the match, his run at the tournament didn’t go unnoticed by his coaches or himself. If anything, his success was a clear testament to the benefits of persistent play.

“If you fight and you compete, anything can happen,” Rowe said. “I don’t think in my first round match I played my best tennis. I served pretty well, and it shows that guys that are good can have bad days and vice versa. Try to compete and try your best and things will work out sometimes.”

Not only does Rowe’s performance reflect well on an individual level, it is also shows the potential of great things that may be in store for an Illini squad that is coming off an appearance in the NCAA final last year.

Needless to say, Rowe’s head coach, Brad Dancer, has confidence in his senior leader, and after Rowe’s inspiring performance at the Challenger there’s no reason for him not to.

“He’s got a great serve and has a good sense for the court,” Dancer said. “Outside of his serve and a great sense for the opponent, he has some weapons, and those are the things that matter in pro tennis.

“His results were excellent this week and that’s really exciting for him and for the program.”

Unfortunately for fans, Rowe was the sole representative of the Illinois men’s tennis program remaining in the singles draw.

Top seed and former Illini Amer Delic was upset in the second round of play on Wednesday, falling to South Africa’s Izak van der Merwe 6-1, 0-6, 7-6(4).

Illinois alumnus Rajeev Ram met a similar fate against Donald Young, dropping his match 6-3, 6-7 (7-4), 6-2.

Ram did, however, manage to stay alive in the doubles draw Thursday with a quarterfinal victory, earning him and partner Bobby Reynolds a berth in Friday’s semifinal.

The tournament wraps up this weekend with the finals for both the singles and doubles draw taking place on Saturday at Atkins Tennis Center.