May 20, 2006
Stanford, Calif. - The 10th-seeded UCLA men's tennis team clinched a spot in the NCAA Quarterfinals for the 18th year in a row Saturday, as the Bruins upset seventh-seeded Illinois, 4-2 in a round of 16 showdown at Stanford's Taube Tennis Center. Next up for UCLA (20-5) is a meeting with second-seeded Pepperdine (33-2) on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. The Waves advanced with a 4-0 victory over Florida in their opening match at Stanford.
Saturday's match was a dogfight from the very beginning, as the Fighting Illini and Bruins split wins at the top two courts, setting up court No. 3 to decide the point. UCLA sophomore's Mathieu Dehaine and Jeremy Drean came up big when it mattered, sealing the point for the Bruins with a 9-8(2) victory over Ruben Gonzalez and GD Jones. The biggest surprise of the day came at court No. 1, where the Bruins' second-ranked duo of Philipp Gruendler and Benjamin Kohlloeffel suffered their first dual-match loss of the season, falling 9-7 to fourth-ranked Kevin Anderson/Ryan Rowe. Gruendler and Kohlloeffel are now 22-1 in dual matches this season.
Despite his tough loss in doubles, Gruendler made up for it in singles play, as he downed Rowe, 6-4, 6-2 in the first match to finish at court No. 4. Gruendler has enjoyed success against Illinois in the past, as it was his victory two years ago that snapped Illinois' 64-match winning streak, sending UCLA to the finals in 2004.
Although the Illini countered Gruendler's win with a straight-set victory of their own at court No. 2, the Bruins extended their lead to 3-1 when Kohlloeffel, the nation's top-ranked singles player, defeated fourth-ranked Ryler DeHeart, 6-4, 7-6(5) at court No. 1.
Illinois cut the lead to 3-2 when Jones posted a 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 victory over Dehaine at court No. 3. Although Illini freshman Marc Spicijaric was up 4-2 in the third set against Michael Look at court No. 6, Bruin junior Chris Surapol took matters into his own hands at court No. 5, ending the match with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Gonzalez, sealing the 4-2 victory for UCLA. Surapol is now 20-1 in dual-match play this season, with his only loss coming in the Bruins' 4-3 loss to current No. 1 Georgia at the USTA/ITA National Team Indoors.
"Well, I thought it was a great college match," said UCLA head coach Billy Martin. "I thought we'd have to play our top tennis to beat that team and I thought we really did, especially in the doubles. Luckily my two young sophomores (Dehaine and Drean) really came through. I'm really proud of them."
Added Illinois head coach Brad Dancer, "A lot of credit to UCLA - they played a good match. The doubles was pivotal today. This entire season we did not win a match after losing the doubles point. Again, I think most of the credit goes to their guys that played well and came through in the match for them."
Pepperdine defeated UCLA, 4-3 in the only meeting between the two teams this season back on Feb. 10 at UCLA.
NOTES: No. 10 seed UCLA improves to 20-5 with victory ... Defending champ Bruins improve NCAA tournament win streak to nine straight ... Teams last met in 2004 NCAA SF where Bruins ended Illinois' 64-match win streak (4-2) ... UCLA has won 16 NCAA championships (second to Stanford's 17) ... Bruins have played in round of 16 every year since NCAA adopted team championship format in 1977 and improve to 29-1 in these matches ... UCLA has now advanced to the final eight every year since 1989 (18 times) and is looking to reach SF for fifth straight year (final third straight year) ... No. 7 seed Illinois ends season with 24-7 record ... This is second straight year Illinois has lost in NCAA round of 16; it is now 5-3 in round of 16 since '99 ... UI won NCAA title in 2003 ... No. 1-ranked Ben Kohlloeffel improves to 40-4 this season at No. 1 singles for UCLA (and has won 20 of last 21) ... Kohlloeffel and Philipp Gruendler (who won at No. 4) were both starters on '05 championship team ... UCLA leads all-time series 4-2.
|1.||(4) Anderson/Rowe (ILL) def. (2) Gruendler/Kohlloeffel (UCLA)||9-7|
|2.||Abid/Surapol (UCLA) def. (19) Pramod Dabir/DeHeart (ILL)||8-6|
|3.||Dehaine/Jeremy Drean (UCLA) def. Gonzalez/Jones (ILL)||9-8(2)|
|UCLA Wins Doubles Point|
|1.||(1) Benjamin Kohlloeffel (UCLA) def. (11) Ryler DeHeart (ILL)||6-4, 7-6(5)|
|2.||(24) Kevin Anderson (ILL) def. Haythem Abid (UCLA)||6-4, 6-3|
|3.||(88) GD Jones (ILL) def. (100) Mathieu Dehaine (UCLA)||6-3, 2-6, 6-3|
|4.||Philipp Gruendler (UCLA) def. (68) Ryan Rowe (ILL)||6-4, 6-2|
|5.||(96) Chris Surapol (UCLA) def. Ruben Gonzalez (ILL)||6-4, 6-4*|
|6.||Marc Spicijaric (ILL) led Michael Look (UCLA)||6-2, 4-6, 4-2|
|* Denotes Clinching Match -- Singles Order of Finish: 4, 2, 1, 3, 5|
Front page photo courtesy of Scoutware.com (Amanda Carmichael)