University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa men’s tennis player Andre Ilagan’s illustrious college career came to end as he leaves UH as the program’s most decorated player. Ilagan’s come-back effort fell short in three sets to Ohio State’s Alexander Bernard, 1-6, 7-6(3) and 4-6 on May 24 in the NCAA Men’s Singles Championships round of 16 at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Florida.
In set 1, Bernard was able to break Ilagan’s serve twice as he cruised to win the opening set, 6-1. Ilagan fought back in the second set. He broke Bernard early to take a 3-1 lead. Both players then held their next serves, but with Ilagan serving and up 40-15, Bernard was able to stave off two game points followed by an Ilagan double fault which put the set back on serve, 4-3. Ilagan and Bernard held their serves the rest of the set forcing a third set tie breaker. The two southpaws traded points early before Ilagan won three-straight points to take a 6-2 lead. Ilagan would go on to win the tie-breaker 7-3 to force a deciding third set.
Bernard broke Ilagan to take an early 2-0 lead, but Ilagan returned the favor the next game to go back on serve trailing 1-2. Ilagan later broke Bernard to take a 4-3 lead. But Bernard pulled away down the stretch, reeling off three-straight games to tie and overtake Ilagan. Ilagan was serving at deuce as Bernard edged him out for a 6-4 win to end the match. In the match, Bernard had a total point advantage over Ilagan, 94-to-82. Ilagan converted three of four break point opportunities while Bernard cashed in on six of 15 break points.
The loss snapped Ilagan’s 17-match win streak. Ilagan is the first Big West player since 2013 to reach the round of 16. Only two from the Big West have advanced that far since 1989. Overall the conference has had players reach the third day of competition just five times (1978, ’87, ’88, 2013 and ’23).
Ilagan is the only Rainbow Warrior to ever compete in two NCAA Singles Championships and the first to win not one, but two matches in the tournament. He leaves UH as its first-ever ITA All-American and finishes his stellar senior season with an 18-4 singles record and a 69-28 career record.