No. 14 Kentucky Survives No. 35 South Carolina, 4-2
April 11, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The No. 14 University of Kentucky men's tennis team used a win in the doubles point and three singles wins from No. 13 Tom Jomby on court one, No. 95 Alejandro Gomez on court two and Jerry Lopez on court four to collect a 4-2 win over No. 35 South Carolina on a perfect Friday afternoon at the Hilary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Center in Lexington, Ky.
"I'm happy we were able to come out with a win," UK head coach Cedric Kauffmann said. "I was a little worried coming out after beating Ohio State that we would have a little bit of a letdown. We definitely didn't play great, but I thought the guys fought hard. I was upset at No. 1 doubles with Tom (Jomby) and Kevin (Lai). For them at home to play this style of match was unacceptable, so I talked to them, and Tom did a good job of rebounding in singles and played a little bit more focused. Alejandro Gomez did a good job of closing out his match on two, and he put a lot of pressure on South Carolina on the last three courts."
The Wildcats with the win are now 3-0 on the week, including Wednesday's historic 4-1 win over No. 1 Ohio State, and Wednesday night's 4-0 win over Morehead State.
Kentucky is now 9-2 in the Southeastern Conference, and with a loss by Texas A&M today at Ole Miss, the Wildcats are now all alone in second place in the SEC. Georgia is currently one game ahead of UK with one matchday left in the conference season, so a Georgia loss coupled with a Kentucky win on Sunday would mean a shared SEC Championship between UK and the Bulldogs. Georgia is at No. 28 Auburn on Sunday afternoon, and UK hosts No. 15 Florida at 1 p.m. ET in Lexington.
On Friday, Kentucky again won the doubles point with two wins on court two and three to collect the early 1-0 lead in the match. The first match to finish was on court two, as Beck Pennington and Alejandro Gomez knocked off Andrew Adams and Kyle Koch. Gomez and Pennington faced numerous break points in the opening games of the match, but then broke at 4-3 and took off from there. After holding at 7-5, the duo broke to claim the match win and collected an 8-5 win on court two.
After a loss on court one by No. 20 Tom Jomby and Kevin Lai on court one, 8-1 to Tsvetan Mihov and Chip Cox, for the third-straight doubles point, the deciding match would be on court three. Kentucky's tried pair of Ryuji Hirooka and Nils Ellefsen were yet again up for the challenge, collecting an 8-5 win on court three to seal the 1-0 win. Hirooka and Ellefsen were in control of the match from start to finish, never getting broken and getting up a break early in the match. The senior/freshman duo combined to take a break into the final game and won 8-5 on the third court.
In singles, No. 13 Tom Jomby quickly put a point on the Wildcats side of the scoreboard, collecting his 98th-career win on Friday, 6-2, 6-2 over No. 75 Andrew Adams on court one. Jomby was never broken in the match and broke on three occasions to collect the win. The win for the senior from Nantes, France, give him an 8-3 record in SEC action this season and gave him yet another win over a ranked opponent this season. With Jomby's win, the Wildcats took the quick 2-0 lead in the match.
"It was good to bounce back after a good win against Ohio State on Wednesday. We were the underdog on Wednesday, but the pressure was on us. Today we were supposed to win. This was a good revenge match for us because last year we lost to them in a really tough match on the road. I personally started really bad in doubles, and Coach Kauffmann was really upset with me. I had to get my mind ready for the match and I played pretty good against a really good opponent today. I was really happy for Jerry Lopez getting to clinch the match, and that is going to help his confidence going forward for the rest of the year."
After South Carolina quickly cut the lead to 2-1 with a straight-sets win on court six, No. 95 Alejandro Gomez would then give Kentucky the 3-1 lead right back with a 6-3, 7-6 (4) win on court two to sweep the top two courts for Kentucky. After taking the first set easily, the senior from Cali, Columbia, then collected a 2-1 lead in the tiebreak and took the mini-break with him. After leading 5-4 at the service change, Gomez lost the mini-break, and then was on-serve at 5-5. Gomez then won the final two points to clinch the match and collect the win.
South Carolina's Thiago Pinheiro cut back into UK's lead and pushed the match to 3-2 with a 7-5, 6-4 win on court three.
Jerry Lopez, the freshman from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico then stepped up and clinched the match with a 6-4. 7-5 win on court four to win the match for Kentucky. After getting up an early break in the second set, Lopez served for the match at 5-4 and had two match points. His opponent, Chip Cox of South Carolina fought them off, and broke back for 5-5 as Cox then went to serve. Lopez got up 0-40 in the Cox service game and two points later, broke for 6-5 and earned another chance to serve out the match. In the 6-5 game, Lopez got up 40-0, earned three match points, and converted on match point No. 4 to take home the 7-5 set win and clinch the match.
"This was a special win for the team after the Ohio State match," Lopez said. "We didn't want to relax and we had to be tough to the core. We had to bring our intensity and it was very important that we won. In my match, I think I played smart and I didn't have to play my regular way because of the type of player he was. I was up a set and 5-4 serving, had a match point, and got a little tight. I stayed tough and focused and I finally gave the win to the team."
"I'm proud of Jerry for another clinch," Kauffmann said. "I think he's one of the best up-and-coming freshman in the country and I think that will give him some confidence before the end of the year, and Grant is always there."
Kentucky will finish the regular season on Sunday afternoon, as the Wildcats will host No. 15 Florida at 1 p.m. ET, and then a nightcap match with Murray State at 6 p.m. ET, with both matches at the Hilary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Center. The Wildcats will honor their six seniors, Ryuji Hirooka, Panav Jha, Alejandro Gomez, Grant Roberts, Maks Gold and Panav Jha on Sunday with Senior Day ceremonies starting at 12:40 p.m. ET.
No. 14 Kentucky 4, No. 35 South Carolina 2
Hilary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Center - Lexington, Ky.
Friday, April 11, 2014
Match Duration: 3:29
Doubles (Order of finish: 2, 1, 3*)
1- Tsvetan Mihov/Chip Cox (USC) def. No. 20 Tom Jomby/Kevin Lai (UK)
2- Beck Pennington/Alejandro Gomez (UK) def. Andrew Adams/Kyle Koch (USC) 8-5
3- Ryuji Hirooka/Nils Ellefsen (UK) def. Sam Swank/Thiago Pinheiro (USC) 8-5
Singles (Order of finish: 1, 6, 2, 3, 4*)
1- No. 13 Tom Jomby (UK) def. No. 75 Andrew Adams (USC) 6-2, 6-2
2- No. 95 Alejandro Gomez (UK) def. No. 78 Tsvetan Mihov (USC) 6-3, 7-6 (5)
3- Thiago Pinheiro (USC) def. No. 112 Beck Pennington (UK) 7-5, 6-4
4- Jerry Lopez (UK) def. Chip Cox (USC) 6-4, 7-5
5- Grant Roberts (UK) led Kyle Koch (USC) 6-4, 3-6, 4-3 (DNF)
6- Andrew Schafer (USC) def. Nils Ellefsen (UK) 6-2, 6-4
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