Men's Tennis Caps Off Season in SEC Tournament Second Round
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- The University of Kentucky men's tennis team closed out its 2015 campaign on Thursday afternoon in College Station, as the No. 6 seeded Florida Gators recorded a 4-2 win over the Wildcats in the second round of the 2015 Southeastern Conference Men's Tennis Championships at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center in College Station, Texas.
Florida got the doubles point early in the match to jump out to a 1-0 lead, as the Gators were able to get wins on courts one and two to cap off the point. On court one, the match was on serve at 4-3, when the Wildcats were broken for 5-3, and allowed the Gators to close out the match at 40-0 on its serve for the 6-3 win.
On court two, the Gators were up a break early at 2-0 and never lost that break, falling 6-3 as UF broke to end the match on the deciding deuce point of the ninth game of the match. Court three featured UK's Trey Yates and William Bushamuka, who were up an early break before UF broke right back to level the match at 3-3, and it ended at 5-4 UF, on serve.
In singles, Kentucky would put up a great fight, stretching the match almost as far as it would go, with the Gators recording the fourth point two and a half hours into the match. UK would put the first point on the board on court two, as William Bushamuka flew past No. 116 Elliot Orkin 6-2, 6-2 to square up the match a little over an hour into singles play.
After a win on court four over Nils Ellefsen in straight sets 6-3, 6-4, the Gators re-took the overall lead in the match at 2-1. The Wildcats would again square the match, this time at 2-2 overall, as Jerry Lopez recorded the biggest win of his young career, with a 6-4, 6-3 win on court one over No. 53 Diego Hidalgo. Lopez was down a break at 4-3 in the first set before closing out the frame with three straight winning games, including a break to close out the set. In the second, Lopez got up an early break at 3-0 and never looked back, winning the second frame 6-3 after six straight holds to cap off the match.
Florida would then get a straight-sets win on court five over Kevin Lai to make it 3-2 UF, before the match was clinched on court three, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5) in two tiebreak sets with Trey Yates dropping the deciding match.
Freshman Jake Stefanik was down a set before winning the second frame 6-2, and forcing a deciding third set on court six. Stefanik was down 15-40 at 1-2, and fought back to square the match at 2-2 before the match was clinched by the Gators on court three.
It was a season of growth for UK, as the Wildcats did not have a senior in its singles or doubles lineup for the first time since the 1987 season, a stretch spanning 18 years. Within its starting singles lineup, Kentucky started three freshman, two juniors and a sophomore, all of whom will return next season for the Wildcats.
Kentucky finishes the season with a 14-16 mark overall on the season, and a 3-9 mark in SEC action. This will be just the second time in the last 28 years that UK will miss out on the NCAA Tournament, and the first time since the 2007 season.
2015 Southeastern Conference Men's Tennis Tournament
(6) Florida 4, (11) Kentucky 2
George P. Mitchell Tennis Center -- College Station, Texas
Thursday, April 16, 2015
Doubles: (Order of finish: 1, 2*)
1- No 51 Maxx Lipman/Elliott Orkin (UF) def. No. 69 Nils Ellefsen/Jerry Lopez (UK) 6-3
2- No. 50 Diego Hidalgo/Gordon Watson (UF) def. Kevin Lai/Gus Benson (UK) 6-3
3- Joshua Wardell/Chase Perez-Blanco (UF) led William Bushamuka/Trey Yates (UK) 5-4 (DNF)
Singles: (Order of finish: 2, 4, 1, 5, 3*)
1- Jerry Lopez (UK) def. No. 53 Diego Hidalgo (UF) 6-4, 6-3
2- William Bushamuka (UK) def. No. 116 Elliot Orkin (UF) 6-2, 6-2
3- Gordon Watson (UF) def. Trey Yates (UK) 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5)
4- Chase Perez-Blanco (UF) def. Nils Ellefsen (UK) 6-3, 6-4
5- No. 120 Maxx Lipman (UF) def. Kevin Lai (UK) 6-3, 6-4
6- Joshua Wardell (UF) vs. Jake Stefanik 7-5, 6-2, 2-2 (DNF)
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