March 6, 2009
URBANA, Ill. -- Playing its highest ranked opponent of the year, Northwestern dropped a 4-3 decision at No. 7 Illinois, but still showed the difference a year makes after having been swept by the Illini last season. Freshman Tobias Reitz (Reinbeck, Germany/Sachsenwaldschule Reinbeck) produced a punishing 6-3, 7-5 upset over No. 29 Roy Kalmanovich at No. 2 singles.
Against a tough home crowd and a building echoing with chants of I-L-L-I-N-I, the `Cats (11-3, 0-1) showed their mettle by taking three singles matches off the Illini (12-3, 2-0).
The Wildcats lost just their second doubles point of the year to fall behind in early action. At No. 2, the duo of Alex Sanborn (Houston, Texas/Kinkaid) and Joshua Graves (Milwaukee, Wis./Nicolet) fell to Illinois' Marc Spicijaric and Marek Czerwinski, 8-2.
The `Cats refused to give up, with Andrew McCarthy (Cincinnati, Ohio/Indian Hills) and Alexander Thams (Stockholm, Sweden/Enskilda Gymnasiet) pushing Brian Livingston and Dennis Nevolo to the limit at No. 3 with an 8-6 decision.
Even though the doubles point was decided, the intensity at Atkins Tennis Center did not drop as No. 1 between the Wildcats' Marc Dwyer (Peachtree City, Ga./University of Nebraska - Independent Study H.S.) and Tobias Reitz and the Illini's Billy Heiser and Ruan Roelofse came down to the wire. The `Cats dropped down an early break, but managed two consecutive breaks of serve late in the match to get a chance to serve it out.
The `Cats dropped a tough game, sending it into a match tiebreak, and all eyes were on Court 2. The Illini jumped up early with a series of service winners and though the `Cats fought back with a few volley winners of their own, Heiser and Roelofse came out with an 8-7(4) triumph.
Illinois built on their lead with a 6-2, 6-0 win by Brian Livingston over Eric Spector (Northbrook, Ill./Glenbrook North) at No. 6.
The next match off the courts was No. 3 singles, where Thams took on No. 101 Czerwinski. After being down an early break in the first set, the Wildcat fought back and evened the frame, but the Czerwinski broke back and took the set, 7-5. The Illini's momentum continued into the second set, which he took 6-2.
No. 55 Spicijaric clinched it for Illinois with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Dwyer at No. 1 singles. It was a tight match with neither player dropping serve until the closing games of each set, but the Illinois senior came out on top.
Even though the dual was decided in favor of the Illini, none of the Wildcats remaining on court gave up and Illinois did not win another point.
NU's first point of the match came with a 6-3, 6-4 Alex Sanborn victory at No. 5 over Abe Souza. The two players traded breaks throughout the match, but the Wildcat captain was able to hold on for the win.
The upset of the night came at No. 2 singles where Reitz defeated the 29th-ranked player in the nation, Roy Kalmanovich. In the first set, the Wildcat freshman broke with a strong return of serve that forced a volley into the net and held on to serve it out. In the second, Reitz was up a break and lost it, but broke again for the match.
NU's third point of the evening came with a Graves victory at No. 5 over Illini Billy Heiser. The only match to hit three sets, Graves pulled it out, 6-2.
The Wildcats face a quick turnaround as they head to Indiana for their second dual in as many days Saturday afternoon at IU Varsity Tennis Center. Play is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.
Illinois 4, Northwestern 3
1. #55 Marc Spicijaric (ILL) def. Marc Dwyer (NU) 6-4, 6-4
2. Tobias Reitz (NU) def. #29 Roy Kalmanovich (ILL) 6-3, 7-6 (7-3)
3. #101 Marek Czerwinski (ILL) def. Alexander Thams (NU) 7-5, 6-2
4. Joshua Graves (NU) def. Billy Heiser (ILL) 6-1, 1-6, 6-2
5. Alex Sanborn (NU) def. Abe Souza (ILL) 6-3, 6-4
6. Brian Livingston (ILL) def. Eric Spector (NU) 6-2, 6-0
1. Billy Heiser/Ruan Roelofse (ILL) def. Marc Dwyer/Tobias Reitz (NU) 8-7 (7-4)
2. #41 Marek Czerwinski/Marc Spicijaric (ILL) def. #80 Alex Sanborn/Joshua Graves (NU) 8-2
3. Brian Livingston/Dennis Nevolo (ILL) def. #80 Alexander Thams/Andrew McCarthy (NU) 8-6
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (6,3,1,5,2,4)