Illinois' Freelove beats Seri in college tourney Straight-set victory propels senior to quarters

September 26, 1998|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

Illinois' Oliver Freelove beat Georgia's Adam Seri, 7-6, 6-4, yesterday to advance to the quarterfinals at the Intercollegiate Clay Court Championships at the Suburban Club in Pikesville.

"This wouldn't necessarily have been the stage where I've had the most success, so it's a pleasant surprise," Freelove said.

On Thursday, the 37th-ranked Freelove, a senior from London, upset Daniel Andersson of Virginia Commonwealth, the top seed.

Last spring, Andersson beat Freelove, 6-1, 6-2, on a hard-court surface better suited to Freelove's serve-and-volley style. Therefore, Freelove wasn't given much of a chance on clay against Andersson, known as the human backboard.

Freelove's upset happened because he took chances and made big shots, "the only way I was going to win," he said.

This theme continued throughout his match with the sophomore Seri, though Freelove said his experience played a big part in the win.

"Today's match was two people going after each other," Freelove said. "Maybe it's because he's a sophomore and with a couple more years, he'll be ready."

Seri, who played at North Carolina last season, thought he was ready to break Freelove's serve, down 4-3 in the second set. Instead, Freelove made a tough serve, won the point and took the game to go up 5-3.

Then, Seri saw Freelove deliver what he described as "three bombs" for aces to close out the match. "I couldn't do much with that," Seri said.

Virginia Commonwealth coach Paul Kostin finds himself in the uncommon position of rooting for a player not his own as the tournament continues. His reasoning is that if the guy who beats your guy wins the whole tournament, it makes your guy look good.

"If he keeps up like that, if you want to beat him, you'd better be ready," he said.

Freelove's game goes up and down, however.

"That's what makes him so dangerous," Kostin said. "One day he can beat anyone, but he has a lot of lower losses. that's why he's not ranked higher."

In another match, the top remaining seed, Alabama's Francisco Rodriguez, the second seed in the tournament who is ranked No. 5 nationally, defeated Brandon Hawk of Texas, 6-3, 6-0. The men's draw continues today at 8: 30 a.m.

On the women's side, Mirela Vladulescu of Alabama-Birmingham beat Katherine Nasser of Northwestern, 6-1, 6-0. Maryland's women's doubles team of Meg Griffin and Lorraine Bittles lost in the second round to Georgia's Marissa Catlin and Vanessa Castellano, 6-1, 6-2.

Pub Date: 9/26/98

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