April 28, 2012
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Saturday's slate at the 2012 Big Ten Men's Tennis Tournament featured a quartet of talented teams duking it out for a pair of spots in the Sunday's tournament final.
No. 1 Ohio State 4, No. 5 Indiana 1
The first match of the day featured the top-seeded, twice-beaten Ohio State Buckeyes and a team looking to win its third tilt in as many days, the Indiana Hoosiers. Indiana, the No. 5 seed, seized the momentum early on by jumping all over the Buckeyes in doubles play. At No. 2 for the Hoosiers, Alastair Barnes and Josh MacTaggart upset the 31st-ranked tandem of Ille Van Engelen and Devin McCarthy, 8-5. Feeding off the energy from its frenzied fan base, IU's Stephen Vogl and Will Kendall took down OSU's Peter Kobelt and Connor Smith, also by an 8-5 score.
Playing from behind for only the third time this season, Ohio State was undaunted as singles play began. Chase Buchanan, the nation's 11th-ranked singles player had little trouble in putting away Isade Juneau, 6-1, 6-2, while No. 6 Blaz Rola outlasted No. 79 MacTaggart of IU, 6-4, 6-2, to give the Buckeyes their first lead of the morning.
Kobelt won at the No. 3 position over Jeremy Langer to extend the lead to two points, but the clinching point was much harder to come by. Eventually, Connor Smith buried Dimitrije Tasic, but he needed a tiebreaker in the second set to do it. Smith won, 6-1, 7-6 (4) to give the Buckeyes a 4-1 win, earning a spot in the Big Ten Tournament Championship match Sunday.
No. 3 Illinois 4, No. 2 Michigan 0
Like in the opening match of the day, the second showdown saw the lower seed jump ahead by gaining the coveted doubles point. No. 3 Illinois when ahead first when its top team of Dennis Nevolo and Roy Kalmanovich, ranked No. 28 in the country by the ITA, defeated UM's Evan King and Shaun Bernstein, 8-4. Meanwhile, Illinois' No. 2 team of Tim Kopinski and Ross Guignon were able to overcome a narrow deficit to blow past Alex Buzzi and Barrett Franks of the Wolverines, 8-5, to grab the first team point.
With a standing-room-only crowd pushing the teams to play their best, both teams played brilliantly during the singles portion. Illinois got its second point from the No. 5 position, where Stephen Hoh beat Franks, 6-4, 7-5. Moments later, another one of Illinois' singles specialists, Bruno Abdelnour, fought his way to a straight-set victory against Bernstein at No. 3, 6-3, 6-4.
With a 3-0 lead, Illinois had chances on a few different courts to clinch the match. In the end, it was No. 4 Tim Kopinski who sealed the win when he defeated UM's Michael Zhu, 7-6 (4), 6-2.
No. 1 Ohio State and No. 3 Illinois will square off on the South Courts at the Vandy Christie Tennis Center at noon to determine the Big Ten Tournament champion for 2012. n the event of inclement weather, indoor matches will be held at the Combe Tennis Center. Stay tuned to NUsports.com and follow @NU_Sports on Twitter for the latest updates.
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