May 20, 2006
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 to29-1 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 to40-4 this season at No. 1 singles for UCLA (and has won 20 of last 21) ... Kohlloeffel and Phillipp Gruendler (who won at No. 4)were both starters on `05 championship team... UCLA leads all-time series 4-2.
Illinois Head Coach Brad Dancer
Opening Statement: "A lot of credit to UCLA - they played a good match. They won it at their strong points, which really helped them through today. I think Kohlloeffel is really a great player at number one. I think there were places where we didn't take advantage, where maybe we had the edge. Number 3 doubles proved to be a pretty critical point for us, and also I think 4 singles - I thought we had a chance to maybe play better there and we didn't execute as well as we could have there."
On the keys to the match: "The doubles was pivotal today. This entire season we did not win a match after losing the doubles point. We have not shown the ability to rebound from that point, so that was a backbreaker for us. Our guys did respond overall in the singles fairly well. Again, I think most of the credit goes to their guys that played well and came through in the match for them."
On Illinois's Standout Players: " I don't think we had any superstars today. I'd say Kevin Anderson, it's good to see him starting to strike the ball better. That bodes well for him going into the individual tournament as well as summer, but he's the level of player that can carry this team deep into the tournament, at least with his spot each time. And it would have been nice to give him an opportunity to do that."
On Any Surprises: "I was surprised at 3 doubles. I really thought we had the edge at 3 doubles. But down the stretch we didn't execute very well. And that team, Gonzales and Jones, is usually a team that is very good at executing. That was a bit surprising."
UCLA Head Coach Billy Martin
Opening Statement: "Well, it was, I thought it was a great college match. I knew it would be, I thought we'd have to play our top tennis to beat that team. And I thought we really did, especially in the doubles with our #1 team losing their first match of the year in dual match competition. Quite honestly I've gotten sort of spoiled, thinking OK we'll win one, and then we got to win one of two or three. With them losing, having to win those other two was a change for us. But, luckily #3, my two young sophomores really came through. I'm really proud of them. We've been struggling, pretty much all year a little bit. And to see them come up with a huge win for us, to get that doubles point, I thought would be crucial today. And then we carried it into singles pretty well. Ben, certainly played good for us. Philip really shined like he has for the past two years in the NCAA Championships."
On the keys to the match: "That 3rd doubles, certainly was key. After we won 2, and were right there close to winning 1, I thought we had Ben fighting back. In the tiebreaker, after being down 2 separate breaks, bringing it back to 7 all, and then losing it, I felt that was a momentum swing right there. I'm sure Illinois, thought they were probably going to win that. That's two young guys against an experienced guy like JD Jones and his partner, that's a good team there. Again, we played a really good tiebreaker. They held on to get to the tiebreaker, and then played an excellent tiebreaker."
On Any Surprises: "The doubles certainly, how it happened was a bit of a surprise. I really felt we had a good chance at 1, 4, and 5. I thought we had chances at the other ones, but I thought those were the key matches for us to win and I thought we'd have a good chance to win, and we did. That made the double point really crucial for us, because I thought Anderson played really well at 2, he kept the pressure on our guy. That was a pretty good match at 3 singles. That bit of experience of JD, really showed there at the very end. And then you have 2 freshman there at 6 singles, From a coaching standpoint, you pray it doesn't come down to that, you just don't know what might happen with nerves. But I still thought that still looked like pretty high quality tennis."