Men's Tennis Season Comes to End in NCAA Second Round, 4-3
May 10, 2014
URBANA, Ill. - The No. 22 University of Memphis men's tennis team (15-6) had its 2014 season come to a close in a tough 4-3 loss in the NCAA Second Round to No. 12 Illinois on the road, Saturday.
"I thought we came out really good," Head Coach Paul Goebel said. "We came out with good energy, we were really playing our game on all of the courts. Then, you have to give Illinois a lot of credit, they fought back and won some tight second sets and their home crowd just kept that momentum going in the third sets and we weren't able to get one of those last ones."
Memphis jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the match thanks to doubles victories from the two and three doubles teams. The number three team of Ian Chadwell and Johnny Grimal got the afternoon off to a quick start with an 8-1 win at No. 3. The duo, who finishes their Tiger pairing with a record of 19-2 this season, including a 16-2 mark at No. 3, then had ringside seats for a pair of doubles heavyweight battles.
On the next court, at No. 1, Memphis got off to a fast start, leading 3-0. But the host Illini slowly crept back in the match, and held the advantage down 7-6, trying to force a tiebreak at number one. But the number two team of Cedric De Zutter and Connor Glennon had other ideas. The tandem broke back from 5-4 down and forced their way to a tiebreak at 7-all. Memphis prevailed 7-5 in the breaker, claiming the team doubles point.The win of the doubles point got the singles play off to quick starts, with Memphis winning first sets on four courts.
Chadwell was the first Tiger to the singles finish line, picking up a win at No. 5 singles, 6-2, 6-2 to make it 2-0 Tigers. The Tigers had fought back on the two courts where they lost the opening set and had forced deciding third sets with second set wins at 3 and 6, but Joe Salisbury was the only Tiger who managed to hang on to his first set win momentum, closing out No. 18 ranked Farris Gosea, the Big 10 Player of the Year, 6-4, 6-2 to make it 3-0 Memphis.It looked like Tiger junior Connor Glennon would be the next Tiger to the finish line, as the junior took the first set from No. 8 ranked Jared Hiltzik, 6-4. But Hiltzik showed why he is ranked in the top 10 in the country and fought off match point, forcing a second set tiebreak and winning the breaker, 7-4.Meanwhile, with the life they got from avoiding match point at No. 1, Illinois got on the board when No. 63 Tim Kopinski bounced back from a 6-2 second set loss to Johnny Grimal with a 6-0 win in the third set, making it 3-1. Moments later, Illini teammate Blake Bazarnik came back from a 6-2 first set loss to David O'Leary to win the second and third sets 6-0, 7-5. The two wins fired up the Illini crowd, who had gotten quiet with Memphis up 3-0, and the energy powered Ross Guignon to a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over David O'Hare at No. 6 to tie the match.
Back at No. 1 singles, Glennon was treated by the athletic training staff on the changeover and Hiltzik took advantage of his limited mobility in the third, closing out the win at No. 1, 6-1.
The loss marks the end of the Tiger careers of Cedric De Zutter, Johnny Grimal and David O'Leary. Fellow seniors Joe Salisbury and David O'Hare qualified for the NCAA Doubles tournament later this month in Athens, Ga., and senior Ian Chadwell awaits word on a medical exemption and a possible sixth year.
"Right now, our seniors are all going to be disappointed," Goebel said. "But I think it's the kind of thing that they look back and see how they really changed our program and got us on the national level and all the accomplishments they had, they'll have some positive feelings. I'm just really proud of this group. We've had a lot of great matches and to put us in position to be in matches like today is what we are trying to get this program to be about. These guys have done that. You can't win all of these, but it's definitely fun to compete in this big time environment."
No. 12 Illinois 4, No. 22 Memphis 3