Wildcats Edge Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – It came down to the wire on Sunday evening as the No. 12 Kentucky Wildcats edged out the Alabama Crimson Tide for a 4-3 victory.

The match went the full duration, with the fate of the contest coming down to the second court, where freshman Ryotaro Matsumura was in the midst of the third set when the match tied 3-3. 

Matsumura once again showed mental fortitude, rallying from behind a game to take the third set, 7-5, for a 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory. 

“What a great effort by these guys today,” said assistant coach Matt Emery. “After losing the doubles point, Nils [Ellefsen] and Trey [Yates] took care of business in a hurry was huge for us to get two quick points on the board. It is a different feeling out there as a player when the match is even as opposed to being behind and seeing a mountain you have to climb.

"I can't say enough about the heart of our young freshman, Ryotaro. Toughness goes a long, long, way in college tennis, and Ryo is action-packed with it."

Kentucky moves to 11-3 on the season with a 3-1 record in Southeastern Conference play. Alabama sits at 10-7 with a 2-2 SEC mark. 

For the second time in as many days, the Wildcats fell behind in the doubles point, with the top and third courts falling to the Crimson Tide, 6-4 and 6-2, respectively. 

In singles play, Kentucky turned the tide, as sophomore Trey Yates tied up the match with a commanding 6-3, 6-1 victory on the fifth court. 

The next two matches finished in quick succession, as a 6-3, 6-3 win from junior Nils Ellefsen gave UK a brief 2-1 lead. Alabama knotted the match back up as freshman Austin Hussey fell on the bottom court, 7-5, 6-0.

Sophomore William Bushamuka pushed the Cats back into the lead, earning his fourth win over a ranked opponent this season to give Kentucky the 3-2 edge. Bushamuka took down No. 62 Mazen Osama on the top court for the 6-3, 6-3 win.

“William closing out his match against a Top 50 player in two sets was a huge key for us. He did a great job of keeping his composure after getting broken back in the second set, went right back to work, and got the break right back. I thought today was one of the cleanest matches he has played this year."

Freshman Enzo Wallart fell in three sets before Matsumura’s winner.

The Wildcats will take a five day hiatus before the next match, when the team will host Vanderbilt on Friday, Mar. 18. First serve is set for 5 p.m.

#12 Kentucky 4, Alabama 3

1. #23 William Bushamuka (UK) def. #62 Mazen Osama (UA) 6-3, 6-3
2. #108 Ryotaro Matsumura (UK) def. #81 Korey Lovett (UA) 2-6, 6-3, 7-5
3. Nils Ellefsen (UK) def. B. O'Shaughnessey (UA) 6-3, 6-3
4. Spencer Richey (UA) def. Enzo Wallart (UK) 5-7, 6-1, 6-4
5. Trey Yates (UK) def. Grayson Goldin (UA) 6-3, 6-1
6. Matthew Rossouw (UA) def. Austin Hussey (UK) 7-5, 6-0

1. #42 Korey Lovett/Mazen Osama (UA) def. Nils Ellefsen/William Bushamuka (UK) 6-4
2. Grayson Goldin/B. O'Shaughnessey (UA) vs. Ryotaro Matsumura/Enzo Wallart (UK) 4-4, unfinished
3. Spencer Richey/Matthew Rossouw (UA) def. Gus Benson/Kevin Lai (UK) 6-2

For more information on the Kentucky men’s tennis team, follow @UKMensTennis on Twitter or Kentucky Men’s Tennis Team on Facebook.