URBANA, Ill (UI Release) – Former Illini Dennis Nevolo fell in the semifinals of the JSM Challenger on Friday evening at the Atkins Tennis Center. Nevolo, who advanced the furthest in the Challenger series in his young professional career at the event, lost to seventh-seeded Sam Groth of Australia, 7-6(5), 6-4.
Nevolo, ranked No. 579 in the world, was an underdog against No. 203 Groth. Nevolo was not intimidated, having beaten his first career top-200 player earlier in the tournament. In the first round of the main draw, Nevolo beat No. 164 Rik De Voest in straight sets, 6-4, 7-6(2).
Nevolo and Groth battled to a tiebreak in the first set. Both players struggled to hold serve and the breaker was knotted at 5 all, but Groth got a huge mini-break to force set point and held serve for the 7-6(5) first-set win.
Groth took the momentum and got a break immediately in the second set. Nevolo forced one deuce and had two other good opportunities to break through the second set, but Groth came through every time and hung on for the 6-4 second-set win.
The big-serving Groth totaled 12 aces to Nevolo’s two, and the Australian won 72 percent of his first service points.
Groth will face Tennys Sandgren tomorrow at 1 p.m. CT in the singles final of the JSM Challenger at the Atkins Tennis Center. Sandgren is playing on both the singles and doubles finals, so the doubles final will begin after an appropriate resting period after the singles match concludes.
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