No. 22 Kentucky Opens SEC Slate with Pair of Home Matches
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Following a strong opening to the season, the No. 22 Wildcats are prepared to begin a rigorous SEC slate, beginning league play with a pair of home matches.
The Wildcats are set to face the Arkansas Razorbacks on Friday, Mar. 4, with first serve at 5 p.m. Kentucky will follow up Friday’s match with a matinee against the Rebels of Ole Miss on Sunday, Mar. 6, at 1 p.m. Both matches will take place in the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Center.
Both opponents will prove tough competition for the Cats, with Arkansas sitting at 27 in the national rankings, while Ole Miss comes into Sunday’s match sitting at 26th in the country.
Last time out, Kentucky continued a successful string of matches, taking down No. 64 Indiana, 6-1, in front of its home crowd. The Wildcats moved to 8-2 on the season with the victory, winning four of its last five. The win over Indiana marked UK’s third ranked win of the season, adding the Hoosiers victory to the resume after defeating No. 13 Duke in January and No. 31 Notre Dame in mid-February.
For the second straight match, Kentucky’s tweaked doubles lineup proved beneficial. On the top court, William Bushamuka and Nils Ellefsen teamed up to defeat Sam Monette and Daniel Bednarczyk, 6-3. Ryotaro Matsumura and Enzo Wallart earned a 6-3 win of their own on the second court against Chris Essick and Stefan Lugonjic. Sophomore Gus Benson and senior Kevin Lai led, 5-4, when the match was discontinued.
In singles, play Ellefsen was the first to close out his opponent, earning a 7-6, 6-4 win over Daniel Bednarczyk. Next to finish was Matsumura. After storming past Raheel Manji, 6-1 in the first set, the rookie showed great composure, rallying from a 2-5 deficit to defeat his opponent, 7-6(3). Bushamuka clinched the match in a top-40 matchup on the top court. The match had to be extended to three sets, as the sophomore rallied for a 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory over No. 37 Sam Monette for his third ranked win of the season. Wallart followed Bushamuka with a three-set victory of his own, defeating Matthew McCoy 6-0, 3-6, 7-5. Trey Yates picked up his second singles win in as many matches, toppling Chris Essick in the No. 6 spot, 6-2, 6-4.
The 22nd-ranked Wildcats have two members of the team ranked in singles play. Bushamuka continued his ranked streak in the most recent standings, coming in at No. 31 in the country, while Matsumura climbed from unranked to the No. 90 player in the country.
Arkansas (10-2) and Ole Miss (5-2) each enter the respective matches with one ranked singles played. For Arkansas, Mike Redlicki enters Friday as the No. 82 player in singles play, while Stefan Lindmark of Ole Miss enters Sunday as the 69th-ranked player in Division I.
UK athletics marketing, in conjunction with the men’s and women’s tennis programs, is excited to announce the launch of The Wildcat Advantage, Kentucky’s new tennis fan club. Members can accumulate points to trade in and receive prizes by signing in at matches they attend for both the men’s and women’s teams. Members will also be signed up for an email group to receive reminders of upcoming tennis matches. Members of The Wildcat Advantage can earn a point by signing in at each tennis match and can earn additional points for signing friends up for the club. Prizes include The Wildcat Advantage t-shirts, Papa John’s pizza coupons, and exclusive tennis experiences throughout the season.
For more information on the Kentucky men’s tennis team, follow @UKMensTennis on Twitter or Kentucky Men’s Tennis Team on Facebook.