No. 17 Kentucky Falls in Nail-Biter Against Vanderbilt

Box Score (pdf)

LEXINGTON, Ky. – It looked like Kentucky’s Ryotaro Matsumura would pull off yet another incredible comeback to clinch once again, but the freshman and the Wildcats fell short on Friday evening in a 4-3 defeat at the hands of Vanderbilt at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Center.

The scenario was all too familiar, as the deciding match came down to Matsumura on the second court. Again, the Japan native found himself in a hole, this time 5-1, and again he forged an impressive comeback. The freshman phenom climbed back to take a 6-5 lead, before Vanderbilt’s Rhys Johnson tied the match and earned the tiebreaker win for a decisive 7-6 third set.

Kentucky falls to 11-4 on the season and 3-2 in Southeastern Conference matches. Vanderbilt improves to 10-8 and 1-2 in league play.

Kentucky shook up the doubles lineup again, still looking for the right adjustment and found some success. While the team dropped the point, the matchups looked closer than they had been before. Matsumura paired with senior Kevin Lai on the third court, falling 6-2 before sophomore classmates William Bushamuka and Gus Benson closed out the competition on the second court, 6-3. Junior Nils Ellefsen and freshman Enzo Wallart played to a 6-6 tie before falling in the match, with the team slipping to a 1-0 deficit.

Kentucky wasted no time regaining the lead. Sophomore Jake Stefanik joined the singles lineup in the bottom court, cruising to a 6-3, 6-1 victory to knot the match, 1-1. Kentucky regained the lead courtesy of classmate Trey Yates, who stifled the Commodores’ Kriss Yee, 6-2, 6-2, for a 2-1 team lead.

Ellefsen fell in straight sets on the third court before Bushamuka pushed UK ahead once again. Another strong showing from the Princeton, New Jersey, native guided UK to a 3-2 lead with the 6-3, 6-4 win over Daniel Valent.

Wallart was in the midst of his second set, trailing 3-0, when he was forced to retire due to injury. Matsumura’s defeat on the second court locked in the win for Vanderbilt.

FINAL – No. 17 Kentucky 3, No. 68 Vanderbilt

Singles (Order of Finish: 6, 5, 3, 1, 4, 2)

1. #23 William Bushamuka (UK) def. Daniel Valent (VANDY) 6-3, 6-4

2. Rhys Johnson (VANDY) def. #108 Ryotaro Matsumura (UK) 4-6, 6-4, 7-6

3. Cameron Klinger (VANDY) def. Nils Ellefsen (UK) 7-5, 6-3

4. Baker Newman (VANDY) def. Enzo Wallart (UK) 7-6, 3-0, retired

5. Trey Yates (UK) def. Kris Yee (VANDY) 6-2, 6-2

6. Jake Stefanik (UK) def. Alex Ross (VANDY) 6-3, 6-1

Doubles (Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1)

1. Rhys Johnson/Cameron Klinger (VANDY) def. Enzo Wallart/Nils Ellefsen (UK) 7-6

2. William Bushamuka/Gus Benson (UK) def. Daniel Valent/Pen Binet (VANDY) 6-3

3. Baker Newman/Tate Allwardt (VANDY) def. Ryotaro Matsumura/Kevin Lai (UK) 6-2

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