No. 19 Kentucky's Comeback Not Enough to Topple Vandy
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky men’s tennis team fell by a score of 4-3 for the third time in its last four matches on Saturday afternoon as the No. 19 Wildcats dropped a match in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend’s consolation final to the No. 24 Vanderbilt Commodores at the Hilary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Center.
“All of these last four matches have been about the same,” UK head coach Cedric Kauffmann said. “We are in position to win, but we are not closing out matches. That is my fault. Young team or not, having two key players hurt or not, I have to do a better job. I have to get the guys together. I have to have all seven slots play better and more consistent every match. We will turn it around and when we do, we will be back to where we belong.”
For the second night in a row, the overall match came down to court six, where freshman Jake Stefanik was in position to win the match for the Wildcats. Stefanik was up 5-2 in the opening set of his match before dropping the first frame after Vanderbilt’s Suresh Eswaran fought back to win the set 7-6.
Kentucky was down 3-0 early in the match, as Vanderbilt’s strong doubles helped them take the 1-0 lead with wins on courts two and three and then taking the first two completed singles matches, with wins on court one and four in straight sets.
On court one, Beck Pennington was broken at 5-5 and Vanderbilt’s A.J. Johnson served out an opening set win before cruising to a 6-3 second set win.
On court four, Vandy’s Danny Valent downed Kevin Lai 6-4, 7-5 in straight sets to put the Commodores up 3-0.
Kentucky would fight back to make it 3-1 when freshman William Bushamuka recorded a three set win on court three, as the freshman went the distance for the second straight day and collected the final two sets to win the match. Bushamuka won both of the final sets 6-4 to take the win.
It then became 3-2 when Jerry Lopez came back in three sets after trailing 2-5 in the deciding set and fought back to force a tiebreak to decide the match. Lopez then won the tiebreak 7-3 and won the match.
Trey Yates won his first career match against a power five school on Saturday picking up a straight-sets win over Baker Newman on court five, 6-1, 6-1 on court five. Yates’ win made it 3-3 and put the attention and the outcome of the match on court six, where Vanderbilt came out with the win.
Kentucky is next on the road in Columbus, Ohio, at No. 5 Ohio State on Thursday afternoon in the Buckeye State. The match will start at 5 p.m. ET.
2015 ITA Kick-Off Weekend – Lexington Sub-Regional
No. 24 Vanderbilt 4, No. 19 Kentucky 3
Hilary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Center – Lexington, Ky.
Jan. 24, 2015
Doubles: (Order of finish: 3, 2*)
1- AJ Austin/Rhys Johnson (VU) led Beck Pennington/Kevin Lai (UK) 4-3 (DNF)
2- Baker Newman/Ryan Smith (VU) def. William Bushamuka/Jerry Lopez (UK) 6-3
3- Suresh Eswaran/Danny Valent (VU) def. Nils Ellefsen/Trey Yates (UK) 6-1
Singles: (Order of finish: 1, 4, 3, 5, 2, 6*)
1- AJ Austin (VU) def. No. 96 Beck Pennington (UK) 7-5, 6-3
2- Jerry Lopez (UK) def. Kris Yee 6-7 (4), 7-5, 7-6 (3)
3- William Bushamuka (UK) def. Rhys Johnson (VU) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
4- Danny Valent (VU) def. Kevin Lai 6-4, 7-5
5- Trey Yates (UK) def. Baker Newman (VU) 6-1, 6-3
6- Suresh Eswaran (VU) def. Jake Stefanik (UK) 7-6 (4), 6-1
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