DeHeart drops a Heartbreaker at the USTA Challenger

Nov. 14, 2005

URBANA, Ill. - Missed opportunities cost Ryler DeHeart a chance at a major upset, as he let three match points slip by in a 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (5) loss to Brian Baker in the First Round of the USTA Challenger at the Atkins Tennis Center in Urbana, Illinois. The University of Illinois Senior had one match point on Baker's serve at 5-3, and two while serving at 6-5, but was unable to convert.

"I think I played pretty well overall," DeHeart said. "But I think I tried to press a little bit at the end. He came up with some big shots as well."

DeHeart's loss was the closest a member of the University of Illinois team has ever come to a win in the Champaign-Urbana Challenger in its ten year history. Leading at 5-3, he turned his ankle while trying to return a Baker backhand, knocking over the courtside protective railing in the process. Baker was able to use the injury to his advantage, winning that game and the next to even the score at 5. DeHeart broke back to take a 6-5 lead, but squandered two match points in that service game to bring it to the tiebreaker, where the Illinois Senior had two double faults and two hitting errors.

Still, the match brought some positives for University of Illinois Head Coach Brad Dancer. "I'm always proud because he competes so hard," he said. "I think he showed some weaknesses in his return of serve, but he still put himself in a position to win the match."

In the night's other two marquis matches, former Illini Rajeev Ram and doubles partner Justin Gimelstob knocked off a pair of former teammates, Michael Calkins and Amer Delic, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (4). And another member of the 2003 NCAA Championship team, Brian Wilson, suffered a tough defeat as well, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 to 7th seeded Chris Guccione.


Monday brought the first wave of the Illini contingent at the Challenger, but Tuesday promises another full fleet of Illini in action. 2003 NCAA singles champion Amer Delic begins his individual run with a 6:30PM match against Michael Russell. Immediately following that will be double barreled action, with Ram taking on the tournament's top seed Hyung-Taik Lee on Court One, and Illinois Sophomore Kevin Anderson matched up with former world #15 Jan-Michael Gambill on Court Two.

Admission is $5 per day, $3 for adults. On Friday, all students will be admitted free.



1st Round:

Eric Nunez (USA) def. Dusan Vemic (SCG) 7-6 (7), 6-3

#5 Danai Udomchoke (THA) def. Richard Bloomfield (GBR) 3-6, 6-2, 6-2

Jeff Morrison (USA) def. #8 Kristian Pless (DEN) 7-5, 4-6, 6-3

Frank Dancevic (CAN) def. Harsh Mankad (IND) 6-4, 6-3

Ivo Heuberger (SUI) def. Phillip Simmonds (USA) 6-4, 6-4

Travis Rettenmaier (USA) def. Glenn Weiner (USA) 7-6 (3), 7-6 (3)

Brian Baker (USA) def. Ryler DeHeart (USA) 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (5)

#7 Chris Guccione (AUS) def. Brian Wilson (USA) 5-7, 6-3, 6-4


1st Round:

#2 Justin Gimelstob/Rajeev Ram (USA) def. Michael Calkins/Amer Delic (USA) 7-6 (7), 7-6 (4)

LL-Kiantki Thomas (USA)/Daniel Wendler def. Michael Russell (USA)/Dusan Vemic (SCG) 6-4, 6-4

Scott Oudsema/Phillip Simmonds (USA) def. Harsh Mankad (IND)/Jeremy Wurtzman (USA) 6-4, 7-5


Kevin Anderson on Jan-Michael Gambill: "The last time I saw him he was playing on TV, and he was around 20 in the world. So obviously, he's a very good player and I can't wait to play him."

Rajeev Ram: "It's a tough match to play against Amer and Michael, obviously, because the crowd loves them both so much. But we played well, and we got through."

Amer Delic on Michael Russell: "It's going to be a tough one. I played him on clay earlier this year and beat him in three. But I had to play really good to beat him. So I'll have to play some good tennis to beat him tomorrow."

Highlighted Matches for Monday, beginning at 12PM:

1:30- Zack Fleishman vs. #2 Justin Gimelstob

6:30- #6 Amer Delic vs. Michael Russell

7:00- Kevin Anderson vs. Jan-Michael Gambill

8:00- Rajeev Ram vs. #1 Hyung-Taik Lee

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Ryler DeHeart dropped a first round heartbreaker at the USTA Challenger in Champaign-Urbana
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