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Jomby delivers, men's tennis takes down top-ranked Ohio State

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Cedric Kauffmann saw how the match was playing out.

With No. 1 Ohio State in town and UK out to a 1-0 lead in doubles, he watched as Alejandro Gomez and Beck Pennington were poised for straight-set wins on courts two and three that would put the Wildcats within one point of a match win.

Kauffmann recognized there was a good chance it would all be decided by his best player, Tom Jomby.

"We had to win some third sets for us to win this match, so I told Tom, 'I think it's going to come down to you,' " Kauffmann said.

Kauffmann was right.

Jomby, the nation's No. 13 singles player, had fallen to No. 9 Peter Kobelt in the first set, but Kauffmann challenged him to hone his focus with the match potentially on the line. He won the second set, 6-3, setting up an opportunity for Jomby to win it for the Cats in the third.

He did just that, dominating the set and giving No. 14 UK (17-7, 8-2 Southeastern Conference) its fourth win over a top-ranked team in school history and first since 1997.

"They're always very, very tough to beat," Kauffmann said of Ohio State. "They're always fit. They're always well-coached, so we know it was going to take everybody in the lineup to beat Ohio State to play well."

Accordingly, UK got contributions from everywhere.

In doubles, Pennington and Gomez rallied from a 5-0 deficit to win a tiebreaker. Ryuji Hirooka and Nils Ellefsen followed with another tie-breaking win in No. 3 doubles. In singles, Gomez and Pennington finished those straight-set victories.

But as Kauffmann foretold, it came down to Jomby.

The senior is in the home stretch of his UK career. With his final regular-season home matches coming up this weekend, Kauffmann has seen a different level of focus from Jomby after a late-March lapse.

"I thought he did a really good job in January, February," Kauffmann said. "After Georgia (on March 21), I think he went away for 10 days, two weeks. Maybe a little tired. Maybe he was watching too much basketball late night. I think he bounced back tonight with his nerves a little bit so I'm very happy for him."

Jomby won't have to won't long to sustain it, as UK will host Morehead State at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday, South Carolina on Friday and Florida and Murray State on Sunday.

"We'll take it one match at a time," Kauffmann said. "We'll take care of Morehead and then tomorrow we'll--I think physically that's going to be the most important. We're playing five matches in six days so we're going to have to take care of our bodies and all that stuff, but I told them in the locker room, 'We can beat Ohio State but we can go down to South Carolina or Florida.'

UK's win over Ohio State served notice of what the Cats are capable of, but Kauffmann doesn't want his team to forget what it looks like when they aren't in top form.

"We're for sure going to use this match in the future and I'm going to use the Alabama match also," Kauffmann said. "That's what we can do when we are not intense and not playing great and this is what we can do when we're together and playing good."


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