With team’s season over, Gonzales, Rowe win individual matches

By Jeremy Werner

The Illini men’s tennis team was devastated when their national championship dreams ended early after a close loss to Big Ten foe Ohio State last Friday. So when a pair of Illinois seniors had the chance to play against two members of the national championship-winning Georgia team, they took advantage.

Ruben Gonzales and Ryan Rowe defeated teammates Nate Schrugg and Jamie Hunt, respectively, to pull a sweep of the Bulldogs on Wednesday afternoon. Both move on to play in the round of 32 on Thursday.

“Obviously, we were a really good team this year,” Rowe said. “We had our ups and downs, but we wanted to show that we can compete with those guys and maybe we should have been (at the National Championship match) too.”

No. 42-ranked Gonzales upset No. 9 seed Schrugg 6-3, 7-6 (7-3 tiebreaker).

“I thought he controlled the tempo of the match really well,” Illinois coach Brad Dancer said. “I think he may have been a tidbit nervous early on, but I thought he got through those nerves and really started to control the tempo of the match pretty well.”

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Dancer said Gonzales’ victory was not much of an upset, rather his win showed the talent at the Championships.

“Everybody here can play,” Dancer said. “It’s more about matchups than the seedings and rankings.”

Rowe fell behind early, losing the first set to Hunt 4-6. But the senior refused to let his career end in double disappointment, winning the next two sets 6-2, 7-5 to take the match.

“I just tried to make sure I stayed calm and not get upset or anything and just make sure I stuck with what I knew would work,” Rowe said.

Gonzales will play tomorrow at 12:30 p.m, while Rowe will pull double duty, playing a singles match at 11:30 a.m. followed by his doubles match with sophomore teammate Billy Heiser at 6 p.m.

The senior said he’s readying for his long day of tennis.

“Right after the match I got into the cold tank and had a cold bath to keep the legs fresh,” Rowe said. “I’m going to get some good rest tonight, eat a big meal tonight and be ready for tomorrow.”