Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ohio States Continues Men’s Tennis Domination

It’s one of the biggest rivalries in college sports  -- Ohio State vs. Illinois. This competition is especially strong in tennis where, after years of the Illini leading the Big Ten, the Buckeyes have held the top spot.  I have personally seen more of these battles than most and the one Sunday was no exception, despite the final shutout score.

The Atkins Tennis Center at the University of Illinois was packed with fans ready to take on the Buckeyes.  Ohio State brought a few of their own to cheer back, but there was no doubt whose court they were on. There was great doubles on all courts with high energy from the start. On Court 2, Stephen Hoh and Abe Souza gave the home team the first win in the match, taking Chase Buchanan and Shuhei Uzawa, 8-3.  It would be the last one going to the Illini, though, as Ohio State took the remaining courts and captured the doubles point.

Most of the first sets went to the Buckeyes, but that didn’t tell the full story of the match as it included two three-setters and three tiebreakers. The first singles finish went to Matt Allare, while Abe Souza  nursed a shoulder injury at the beginning of the second set (he lost the first 6-2) and could not get past the solid play of the Buckeye at No. 4.  Blaz Novak would make it 3-0 Ohio State when he eliminated Stephen Hoh with the same score, but it would be a bit longer before Devin McCarthy would clinch it as a determined Bruno Abdenour fought off three match points at 5-3 before succumbing 6-4,6-4>

The final three matches on the court would see the Illini battling to get on the board.  Ohio State was just too tough on every court and they finished the shutout with Ille Van Englen over Johnny Hamui, 6-2,7-6(4); Chase Buchanan defeating Dennis Nevolo, 5-7,6-4,6-2; and then Blaz Rola edging Roy Kalmanovich, 6-7(3),6-2,7-6(4).

It was a good day all around in Buckeye nation as the women’s team also took out Illinois, in a 4-3 that wasn’t decided until the end.

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