Bilankov falls just short of main draw

The senior lost a three-setter in his third tournament match.

by Max Sanders

At the menâÄôs qualifiers in Oklahoma, a Gophers senior fell one match short of the making the main draw of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-American Championships. Minnesota senior Dino Bilankov advanced to the third round of the qualifying tournament after winning three-set matches in the first and second round. In the third round Bilankov faced North CarolinaâÄôs Brennan Boyajian . After splitting the first two sets, Boyjian pulled it out in the third set, winning 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. âÄúI think I played really good tennis this tournament,âÄù Bilankov said. âÄúToday it was just bad luck and a lack of some smart choices on the court.âÄù Even though he did not make the final match, Bilankov, normally a No. 4 or 5 player on the Gophers team, gained confidence from playing some of the top collegiate players in the country. âÄúIt just showed me how they play, and that [playing] on this level is something I can do,âÄù Bilankov said. âÄúI thought that these guys from [No.âÄôs] 1 to 3 were amazing. Right now, I have that firsthand experience, and I can compete with that.âÄù Despite the third round loss, menâÄôs associate head coach Urban Ljubic said he was impressed with BilankovâÄôs effort. âÄúHe had a pretty solid tournament,âÄù Ljubic said. âÄúA tough loss today, which would have given him a good opportunity to play in the main draw, but sometimes you end up on the losing side.âÄù Also competing for Minnesota was junior Tobias Wernet . A No. 4 seed heading into the tournament, Wernet was knocked out in the second round after easily beating his first round opponent 6-3, 6-2. Ljubic said he was not pleased with WernetâÄôs second-round play. âÄúIt was probably one of the worst matches in his college career,âÄù Ljubic said. âÄúHe was competing pretty hard, but he was not in his good form. He [wishes] that he could take that one back; unfortunately you canâÄôt do that.âÄù Fellow junior Sebastian Gallego was also knocked out in the second round, losing to MarquetteâÄôs Dusan Medan 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. For Bilankov, he will have a short time to cope with the loss. He traveled to Cambridge, Mass., immediately after the loss to compete in the Harvard Invitational this weekend , and he said heâÄôs already moved on from the loss. âÄúIâÄôm over it already,âÄù Bilankov said. âÄúI know I played good. IâÄôm a little bit sad right now, but I donâÄôt doubt my game.âÄù For Gallego and Wernet, their next chance at redemption will come at the ITA Regional Tournament Oct. 22 . Ljubic believes that tournament will give Wernet another chance to prove he warrants a tournament seeding. âÄúHeâÄôs looking forward to the regional tournament where heâÄôs going to be seeded again,âÄù Ljubic said. âÄúHe needs to do better, and I think he will do better in a couple of weeks.âÄù