Friday, May 14, 2010

Illini men secure No. 2 with win over Michigan

April 24, 2010
The Fighting Illini men clarified their second position in the Big Ten standings and secured the No. 2 seed at next week's Big Ten Conference Championships last night as the defeated the Michigan Wolverines, 5-2. 

It was one of those matches you couldn't possibly define by the score.  Though Illinois took the doubles point without much fanfare and Abe Souza quickly grabbed No. 4 singles with a 6-1,6-4 win over Mike Sroczynski, that would be the end of the simple matches.  After the first sets had been split evenly over all the team, the remaining five matches would also go into third sets.

There was not a court at the Illinois-Michigan match that was not a battle and the (very large for the afternoon) crowd got to see it all.  It would be over an hour after Souza's win before another point registered and it would come from #6, where Connor Roth came back from his first set loss to take the next two.  Johnny Hamui would follow on the court next door just minutes later to clinch it for his team.

The biggest battle of all was one I had seen before.  Dennis Nevolo and Evan King had grown up in Chicagoland, training at the CARE Academy and facing each other in the juniors.  They had even played together in doubles, but on Friday night they were definitely on opposite ends as the two friends were now at different schools.  It was a match full of great points and spectacular winners.  In the end, Nevolo securied the fifth point for Illinois before Michigan would win the last two standing.

No. 14 Illinois 5, No. 26 Michigan 2
Jason Jung (UM) defeated Marek Czerwinski (ILL), 4-6,6-2,6-4
Dennis Nevolo (ILL) defeated Evan King (UM), 3-6,7-5,6-4
Abe Souza (ILL) defeated Mike Sroczynski (UM), 6-1,6-4
Johnny Hamui (ILL) defeated George Navas (UM), 3-6,6-4,6-2
Chris Madden (UM) defeated Stephen Hoh (ILL), 3-6,7-6(2),6-4
Connor Roth (ILL) defeated Chris Cha (UM), 3-6,7-5,6-3
Abe Souza/Marek Czerwinski (ILL) defeated Jason Jung/Evan King (UM), 8-5
Johnny Hamui/Dennis Nevolo (ILL) defeated George Navas/Mike Sroczynski (UM), 8-3
Connor Roth/Stephen Hoh (ILL) defeated Chris Madden/Chris Cha (UM), 8-6

Photo of Dennis Nevolo and Evan King from the 2008 USTA National Spring Championships

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