March 20, 2004
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
Over the last two years, the top-ranked University of Illinois has dominated men’s tennis, winning 46-straight dual matches and a national title. Win number 47 was probably closer than the Illini would have like as they got out of town with a 5-2 victory over Florida State University on Saturday (March 20).
Illinois stays a perfect 15-0 on the year while the #41 Seminoles fall to 9-6 overall with all half-dozen losses coming to ranked opponents. This was UI’s closest match in more than a month as FSU is the first school since No. 7 Stanford lost 4-2 to take more than one point off the Illini. The list of eight-straight schools that Illinois has held to one point or less includes #4 Duke, #8 UCLA, #4 Georgia Tech, #35 Notre Dame and #39 Minnesota.
“I was pleased with how hard our guys fought today,” FSU net boss Dwayne Hultquist said. “We played hard and we got Illinois in a position where they were starting to feel some pressure and I don’t think they expected that coming in. Jonathas and Chris really stepped up their games today.”
Both of Florida State’s team points came during singles as FSU is the only the second team this season to win two of the top three singles matches, equaling only #21 Texas A&M.
Down 1-0 after doubles, freshman Jonathas Sucupira (Sao Paulo, Brazil) got the Seminoles their first point with an upset at No. 2. The rookie battled back after dropping the first set 6-1, to win sets two and three 6-0 and 6-2 to beat #29 Phil Stolt. Winning FSU’s only first set was Chris Westerhof (Durban, South Africa) as he beat #87 Ryler DeHeart 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to even the match at two points a piece.
Unfortunately the tide quickly turned against the Seminoles with Illinois winning at No. 1 and No. 5 to secure the team victory. In a back-and-fourth clash, fourth-ranked Brian Wilson outlasted #20 Mat Cloer (Brevard, NC) 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-2. Wrapping up the match was No. 67 Chris Martin as he beat Chip Webb (Chattanooga, Tenn.) 7-6 (2), 6-3 at number five.
“This is the toughest team we’ve played all year and I think now we know that we can play with anyone in the country if we put the effort into it,” Hultquist added. “I think we also proved to ourselves that at home we can beat anybody. The energy of the crowd was awesome and hopefully they’re back for Duke tomorrow.”
Following Sucupira’s win at No. 2, UI took the lead back when GD Jones at number six beat Joao Paolo Bounassar (Maringa Parana, Brazil) 6-2, 6-4. Rounding out the singles play was the fourth match with Michael Calkins beating Jeff Groslimond (Atlanta, Ga.) 11-9 in the super tiebreaker to take the bout 6-2, 5-7, 1-0 (9).
The first point of the day went to Illinois after it won all three doubles. DeHeart and Pramod Dabir got the first win over Webb and Joe Bassett (Monticello, Fla.) 8-1 at No. 3. In a battle of top 25 teams, the No. 3 pair of Stolt and Wilson beat No. 22 Groslimond and Westerhof in the first bout. Illinois’ #33 team of Martin and Calkins needed a tiebreaker to beat Cloer and Sucupira 9-8 (3)
There’s not rest for the Seminoles as they have to turn around on Sunday and take on #4 Duke at 1 p.m. on the courts at the Scott Speicher Tennis Center.
#1 Illinois 5, #41 Florida State 2
No. 1. #3 Stolt/Wilson (UI) d. #22 Groslimond/Westerhof (FSU) 8-4
No. 2. #33 Martin/Calkins (UI) d. Cloer/Sucupira (FSU) 9-8 (3)
No. 3. DeHeart/Pramod Dabir (UI) d. Owen / Joe Bassett (FSU) 8-1
Order of finish: 3, 1, 2
No. 1. #4 Brian Wilson (U) d. #20 Mat Cloer (FSU) 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-2
No. 2. Jonathas Sucupira (FSU) d. #29 Phil Stolt (UI) 1-6, 6-0, 6-2
No. 3. Chris Westerhof (FSU) d. #87 Ryler DeHeart (UI) 6-3, 4-6, 6-4
No. 4. Michael Calkins (UI) d. Jeff Groslimond (FSU) 6-2, 5-7, 1-0 (9)
No. 5. #67 Chris Martin (UI) d. Chip Webb (FSU) 7-6 (2), 6-3
No. 6. GD Jones (UI) d. Joao Paolo Bounassar (FSU) 6-2, 6-4
Order of finish: 2, 6, 3, 1, 5, 4