UW 1, Illinois 4

SEATTLE - Ryo Sekiguchi completed a perfect weekend individually with a come from behind victory over Brandon Davis in three sets but 11th seeded Illinois proved too tough for the 36th ranked and 15th seeded Huskies, ultimately emerging with a 4-1 victory in a consolation match of the ITA Men's National Team Indoors at the Nordstrom Tennis Center on Sunday evening.

Playing at sixth singles, Sekiguchi dropped the opening set against Davis 6-2 but came back to win the second 6-2. Then in the third, he broke Davis's serve twice to take what looked like a commanding 4-0 lead. Fortunately he had two breaks in hand, as leading 5-1, Davis won three straight games to make it 5-4. Sekiguchi served for the win and held at love to earn the only point for the Huskies and finish the weekend with a perfect 3-0 record, as he defeated Georgia's Josh Varela in the first round on Friday and Alabama's Javier Bes in consolation on Saturday.

In a match originally scheduled to begin at 5:30 but got pushed back until almost 7:30 due to the length of three preceding matches, the Huskies and Illini went toe to toe for over three and a half hours, not concluding affairs until about 11:05. Typical of an event like the Indoors, the 4-1 final did not reflect the tightness of the match. Five of six singles matches went to three sets and two of the three doubles came down to just one service break. The final score just depended on which matches ended first.

Doubles began on a promising note for the Huskies as the #3 duo of Martin Kildahl and Tobi Obenaus beat Waylon Chin and Marc Spicijaric 8-5. After Chin held for a 4-3 lead, the Illini broke Obenaus to go up 5-3, but the Huskies rallied to win the final five games. The 10th game was critical. The Huskies had just broken Spicijaric to get back on serve at 4-5, but the Illini had triple break point against Kildahl's serve at 0-40. They had the Huskies on the defensive on the next point, and looked to put away the Huskies at the net, but Chin and Spicijaric miscommunicated on who would play the next shot and by the time Spicijaric made contact with the ball, he weakly hit the ball into the net. So instead of staring at a 4-6 deficit the Huskies still only trailed 4-5 and faced two more break points. Kildahl saved one with an ace and followed with a service winner to bring the game back to deuce. A Chin forehand return landed in the net to give the Huskies a game point and they converted it on a backhand volley winner by Obenaus. The Huskies then proceeded to break Chin for a 6-5 lead, Obenaus held for 7-5, and they broke Spicijaric again in the next game, closing out the match on an errant backhand volley.

At the #1 doubles, nothing separated the Huskies' Derek Drabble and Andy Kuharszky from Illinois's Brandon Davis and Ruben Gonzales. Both sides held serve to 7-7. The Illini finally broke Drabble in the 15th game to take an 8-7 lead. Drabble had a game point but committed a backhand unforced error for deuce. An errant backhand volley by Kuharszky gave Illinois a break point and Davis cashed it in with a forehand volley winner. Trailing 8-7, the Huskies had three chances to return the break on Davis's serve and force a tiebreak, but could not convert. After five deuces and 16 points, a forehand volley winner by Gonzales gave Illinois a 9-7 win.

At #2 doubles, Billy Heiser and Ryan Rowe edged Patrik Fischer and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan 9-7 to clinch the doubles for the Illini. They broke the Huskies in the 15th game to go up 8-7 and then held serve to take a 1-0 lead in the team match.

When play shifted to singles, in the only match to end in straight sets, Heiser defeated Kuharszky 6-4, 6-1 at 3 to put Illinois ahead 2-0. Moments after Sekiguchi's win made it 2-1, Illinois finished the long night with three set wins at 2 and 4. At 2, Rowe, the 15th ranked player nationally in singles, beat Nedunchezhiyan 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-4. Despite losing the first set he never lost his serve in the match, and once he went up a break in t he third set, not much doubt remained that he would earn another point to give Illinois a 3-1 lead.

In the final match that counted, Spicijaric beat Drabble 6-7(6), 7-5, 6-3 at fourth singles. He turned the match around, when, facing a match point on Drabble's serve at 5-4 in the second set, he broke for 5 all. He won the final two games of the set to force a third. Leading 4-3 in that set, he broke Drabble in the eighth game to go up 5-3 and then held serve to put a long match to rest. Unfortunately for the Huskies it ended too soon,as the match at 1 between Fischer and Gonzales did not finish with Fischer leading 4-2 in the third set. Also, the match at 6 between Obenaus and Chin had just gone to the third set after Obenaus won a second set tiebreak.

Following the Indoors, the Huskies (5-4) return to action when they host Arkansas at 5 p.m. on Saturday, February 23 at the Nordstrom Tennis Center.

NOTE: The final of the Team Indoors will take place on Monday, February 18 at 12:00 noon. Top seeded Virginia will face #3 Ohio State. The Buckeyes beat defending Indoors champion and second seeded Georgia 4-1 in the semifinals.

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