Kentucky Topples No. 21 Mississippi State in Lexington

March 14, 2014

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - The No. 15 University of Kentucky men's tennis team used a strong start in the doubles competition and three singles wins on courts one, three and five to capture a 4-2 win over No. 21 Mississippi State on Friday night at the Hilary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Center.

With the win over Mississippi State on Friday night, Kentucky joins No. 16 Georgia as the only two teams who are undefeated in Southeastern Conference action, as both UGA and UK sit at 4-0 in SEC play.

"Anytime you get a win in the SEC, and especially against a team the caliber of Mississippi State, it's a good win," UK assistant coach Matt Emery said after the match. "After taking care of business in the doubles point, we let Mississippi State hang around for just a little bit in singles. For us to achieve our goals this season, we can't have those lapses. But, at the end of the day, we are 4-0 in the toughest conference in the country and playing with a lot of confidence. We are looking forward to getting back to work tomorrow and preparing to play a talented and dangerous Ole Miss team on Sunday." 

In the doubles point, Kentucky came out strong early on courts two and three where they got up double-break on both courts midway through both matches and sailed home to capture the 1-0 lead in the match. On court two, sophomore Beck Pennington and senior Alejandro Gomez broke at 2-1 and again at 4-2 to take the 7-2 overall lead in the match at one point, before closing out the 8-2 win and giving UK the leg-up in the doubles.

One court over, on court three, the newly-ranked team of Ryuji Hirooka and Nils Ellefsen started out the match with a break and went on to go up double-break later in the contest to go up 7-4, where Hirooka served out the 8-4 win, and captured the doubles point for UK.

"I thought the whole team came out really strong in doubles," Pennington said. "We stayed focused throughout the doubles point, and got the point pretty fast, which was good and gave us some confidence in singles."

In singles, senior Tom Jomby continued his assault on the start of the 2014 season, as the Nantes, France, native struck for a 6-0, 6-3 win on court one and gave the Wildcats a 2-0 lead overall in the match. Jomby won the first nine games of the match, leading 6-0, 3-0 before No. 91 Malte Stropp won three-straight games to square the second set at 3-3. After Jomby served for a 5-4 lead late in the second, he broke to win the match, 6-4 in the second set. With the win, Jomby is now an incredible 14-1 on the year, and like his team, a perfect 4-0 in SEC play. 

"I played a great match today with great intensity in both singles and doubles," Jomby said. "In singles, I had a really good start and I kind of lost my focus for 10-15 minutes. (Volunteer Assistant) Anthony Rossi helped me to turn the light back on and told me take my time. I'm really glad I won in straight sets today."

After Mississippi State 12-7 (2-3 SEC) picked up a point with a straight-set win on court four, No. 67 Beck Pennington delivered on court three with a 6-1, 7-5 win on court three to put the Wildcats up 3-1 overall in the match.

Pennington cruised through the first set, winning six of the first seven games before the Bulldogs' Zach White forced a great rally in the second set. After being up a break early in the second set, White broke Pennington back at 4-3 before the Bowling Green, Ky., native then gained the upper hand again by breaking at 5-5 for the 6-5 lead. Pennington then served out the 7-5 win to take a 3-1 lead.

"I felt pretty good overall with my match today," Pennington said. "The first set, I felt pretty confident, and lost a little bit of focus in the second set. We definitely need to work on things for Sunday's match with Ole Miss and our upcoming SEC matches, because it gets tougher as the season progresses. We played overall very well as a team, and we're looking forward to the Ole Miss match." 

Mississippi State then picked up a win on court two as No. 69 Florian Lakat def. Alejandro Gomez of Kentucky in a match that lasted in access of two hours and 20 minutes, as Lakat broke Gomez at 6-5 in the third set to close out the match and collect a 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-5 win as MSU pulled to within 3-2.

On court five, senior and Lexington, Ky., native Grant Roberts clinched the match on court five with a straight-sets win in give UK the 4-2 win. Roberts had no problems in the opening set, winning 6-3 and was even up 3-1 and a break in the second set. His opponent, Rishab Agarwal would fight back after trailing 4-2 in the set and broke at 4-3 to tie the set at 4-4 overall. After Agarewal served out a hold for 5-4, and Roberts matched it for 5-5, Roberts then broke at love to take the 6-5 lead, and gained the opportunity to serve out the match.

Roberts held at love, won the last eight points of the match, and clinched the Wildcats' 4-2 win with a 6-3, 7-5 win. 

"I thought today was a solid performance by the team," Roberts said after the clinch. "It's always a good win to get over Mississippi State because they're so tough and they always fight every point. Everyone fought hard, but sometimes we lost our focus. I lost my focus in the second set and lost my break, but I am always glad to clinch. I enjoy that. I think that's when I play my best tennis. I'm just happy to get the win today and move on to Sunday's match with Ole Miss." 

Court six was halted at the time of the clinch at 6-4, 4-2 in favor of the Bulldogs. 

Kentucky returns to the Hilary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Center on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. ET, as the Wildcats will put their undefeated SEC record on the line against No. 54 Ole Miss.


No. 15 Kentucky 4, No. 21 Mississippi State 2

Hilary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Center - Lexington, Ky.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Match Duration: 4:04

Doubles (Order of finish: 2, 3*)

1- No. 26 Tom Jomby/Kevin Lai (UK) led No. 40 Malte Stropp/Jordan Angus (MSU) 7-6 (DNF)

2- Beck Pennington/Alejandro Gomez (UK) def. Florian Lakat/Tassilo Schmid (MSU) 8-2

3- No. 76 Ryuji Hirooka/Nils Ellefsen (UK) def. Rishab Agarwal/Zach White (MSU) 8-4 

Singles (Order of finish: 1, 4, 3, 2, 5*)

1- No. 10 Tom Jomby (UK) def. No. 91 Malte Stropp (MSU) 6-0, 6-4

2- No. 69 Florian Lakat (MSU) def. Alejandro Gomez (UK) 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-5

3- No. 67 Beck Pennington (UK) def. Zach White (MSU) 6-1, 7-5

4- Jordan Angus (MSU) def. Jerry Lopez (MSU) 6-2, 6-4

5- Grant Roberts (UK) def. Rishab Agarwal (MSU) 6-3, 7-5

6- Tassilo Schmid (MSU) led Ryuji Hirooka (UK) 6-4, 4-2 (DNF)

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