Illini sweep Spartans in East Lansing

 

 

By Eric Chima

The Illinois men’s tennis team opened their Big Ten season in dominant fashion Friday, cruising past Michigan State 7-0 in East Lansing, Mich.

The Illini dropped three sets but didn’t lose a match in dispatching the Spartans, who proved pesky but ultimately toothless. It was both a strong start to the conference season and a personal victory for Illini coach Brad Dancer, who played his college tennis for the Spartans.

“It is always great to return home to my alma mater and play against Coach (Gene) Orlando,” Dancer said. “I am very proud of the guys showing resiliency tonight to get a good win on the road.”

Junior Brandon Davis had perhaps his best night of the young season, taking home the first victories of the night in both singles and doubles. He teamed with Ruben Gonzales to take down Michigan State’s Michael Forger and Alex Flowers 8-4 at second doubles, then romped over Tyler Sauerbrey 6-1, 6-1 at the sixth singles spot.

“Brandon Davis did a great job of teaming with Ruben Gonzales in doubles to help set the tone, and then took care of business in singles,” Dancer said.

GD Jones and Marc Spicijaric added an 8-6 win at second doubles, and Kevin Anderson and Ryan Rowe finished the doubles sweep by handing Nick Rinks and Adam Monich their first conference loss of the season, 8-6.

Michigan State challenged in a number of singles matches, but not until the Illini had already secured the win. GD Jones added the third point with a 6-2, 6-0 stomping of Jason Norville at fifth singles. Kevin Anderson then finished off the Spartans at the top singles spot with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Rinks, the 46th-ranked player in the nation.

By that time, Michigan State was challenging the Illini at the other three singles spots. Rowe, the No. 10 player in the nation, dropped his second set after handling Forger easily in the first, and Spicijaric followed suit at fourth singles.

Combined with Gonzales’s first-set loss at third singles, it looked like the match may turn out close.

But all three players rebounded to take home their matches. Rowe turned his second singles match around to win 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, and Gonzales won a second-set tiebreaker to even his match before finishing off Monich 5-7, 7-6, 7-5. Because Spicijaric finished his second set after the Illini had already clinched the victory, he and John Allare played a 10-point tiebreaker to decide their match. Spicijaric took the deciding tiebreaker for a 7-5, 2-6, 10-5 win, and the sweep was complete.

The win pushed the Illini to 8-3 on the season and left the Spartans winless in the Big Ten. The Illini face Purdue and Wisconsin this weekend.