Kentucky Remains Perfect with Win Over Michigan

Postgame Interviews: William Bushamuka | Nils Ellefsen

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky Wildcats men’s tennis program remained perfect on the season following a 4-3 win over the Michigan Wolverines on Sunday afternoon at the Boone Tennis Center. The win over the Wolverines marks the second time in the past three seasons that Kentucky has opened the dual season at 4-0.

“Today was a good win,” said fifth-year head coach Cedric Kauffman. “Michigan is a good program with a great coaching staff, so I’m proud of our team to get the win. I thought we improved a lot in doubles from the Duke match, closing in on some things. In singles, overall I don’t think we played great tennis, but I thought that we competed well. For us to get better we’re going to need to play a little smarter and give a little less in the trenches, but I think overall it was a good day.

“Overall, this was a great win,” said assistant coach Matt Emery. “I thought we did a good job of coming out and getting on top of them early in the doubles and then shutting the door. Our doubles continues to improve each time we come out.

Kentucky will play again in a week, heading to Charlottesville, Va., to face defending national champion and top-ranked Virginia. The Wildcats and Cavaliers square off on Sunday, Jan. 31, with first serve set for noon.

The Wildcats came out strong, opening the day by winning the doubles point. The duo of sophomore Will Bushamuka and senior Charles Minc were the first to secure a win, toppling Alex Knight and Myles Schalet, 6-2, on the third court. Junior Nils Ellefsen and senior Kevin Lai clinched the point and a 1-0 team lead with a 6-4 win over Jathan Malik and Kevin Wong on the top court. The freshmen combo of Enzo Wallart and Ryotaro Matsumura went unfinished with play stopping at 5-5.

In singles, UK continued its hot start, clinching the match on the top three courts. Ellefsen was the first to finish for Kentucky, besting Carter Lin on the third court, 6-2, 6-0. Matsumura followed up Ellefsen’s performance with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Davis Crocker on the second court. Bushamuka clinched the match with a 6-4, 6-4 win on court No. 1, beating Jathan Malik for the 4-0 team lead. 

“The game ball in singles today goes to Nils,” Kauffman said. “He was incredible coming out the gate and only had three or four unforced errors. He had some great winners and deserves the game ball today.”

"I was really proud of William today at the No. 1 spot,” Emery said. “After he got broke in the second set, he went right back to work. He is so hard to beat when his focus is like this. He just puts so much pressure on his opponents and gives them no room to breathe."

Kentucky had its first setback of the afternoon after clinching the match, as sophomore Trey Yates dropped the match on the fourth court in a tough 7-6 (7), 6-4 decision to Knight. Wallart fell in a heartbreaker to Kevin Wong, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (0). Freshman Austin Hussey was the last to finish, extending the match to a super tiebreaker but was eventually bested 7-5, 6-7 (7), 13-11.

"I thought we relaxed a little bit after clinching the match 4-0,” Emery said. “This is unacceptable for a team with our goals. But the great thing about this team is they learn from everything. We won't make that mistake again.  We are excited to get back to work this week, get better, and get ready to play the defending national champions on the road."

FINAL – Kentucky 4, Michigan 3
Singles (Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1, 4, 5, 6)
1.     #79 William Bushamuka (UK) def. Jathan Malik (MICH) 6-4, 6-4 
2.     Ryotaro Matsumura (UK) def. Davis Crocker (MICH) 6-2, 6-3
3.     #117 Nils Ellefsen (UK) def. Carter Lin (MICH) 6-2, 6-0
4.     Alex Knight (MICH) def. Trey Yates (UK) 7-6 (7), 6-4
5.     Kevin Wong (MICH) def. Enzo Wallart (UK) 7-6, 7-6 (0)
6.     Myles Schalet (MICH) def. Austin Hussey (UK) 7-5, 6-7 (7), 13-11

Doubles (Order of Finish: 3,1)
1. Nils Ellefsen/Kevin Lai (UK) def. Jathan Malik/Kevin Wong 6-4
2. Ryotaro Matsumura/Enzo Wallart (UK) vs. Davis Crocker/Gabe Tishman 5-5 (DNF)
3. William Bushamuka/Charles Minc (UK) def. Alex Knight/Myles Schalet 6-2

For more information on the Kentucky men’s tennis team, follow @UKMensTennis on Twitter or Kentucky Men’s Tennis Team on Facebook.