Men's Tennis
No. 9 Kentucky Whips No. 26 Tennessee in SEC Opener

Sophomore Jesse Witten prepares to serve against Tennessee's Mark Dietrich.

Sophomore Jesse Witten prepares to serve against Tennessee's Mark Dietrich.

Feb. 28, 2003


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The ninth-ranked University of Kentucky men's tennis team opened up conference play Friday with a convincing 6-1 victory over No. 26 Tennessee at UK's Boone Tennis Center. The win improves the Cats' record to 7-4, while the Vols slip to 6-3.

UK started off well by taking the doubles point. At No. 3, Evan Austin and Alex Hume defeated UT's Vince Perna and Raul Martin by an 8-4 count. Tennessee evened things up as Mark Dietrich and Wade Orr knocked off UK's Karim Benmansour and Matt Emery at No. 1, 8-5. Soon after, however, Kentucky's Rahim Esmail and Jesse Witten clinched the doubles point with an 8-6 victory over Tennessee's Mark Henderson and Simon Rea, 8-6.

At No. 3 singles, Benmansour cruised to an easy victory over Perna, 6-2, 6-1 to give Kentucky a 2-0 lead. Tennessee bounced back with a win at No. 2, but that would prove to be the Vols' lone point of the afternoon as the Cats swept the remaining matches.

Rahim Esmail won at No. 5 but not after coming back from quite a deficit. Esmail found himself down 5-2 in the first set but rallied to win five consecutive games to take the first set, 7-5. UT's Wade Orr would never recover as Esmail went on to capture the second set, 6-4.

UK's Witten and UT's Dietrich were locked in a battle at No. 1, but Witten prevailed in the third-set tiebreaker to clinch the UK victory, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (4).

Matt Emery got back on the winning track for UK with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Mark Henderson at No. 5. Freshman Alex Hume closed out the scoring for the Cats with a 4-6, 6-1, 1-0 (9) win at No. 6 over Raul Martin. The third set was played in a tiebreaker format since UK had an easy victory well in hand.



Sunday, Kentucky will take on 22nd-ranked Georgia for the second time in nine days. UK defeated UGA Feb. 21 at the National Indoors in Louisville for the Cats' first victory over the Dogs since 1997. The match is set for 1 p.m. at the Boone Tennis Center.



Doubles 1.Mark Dietrich/Wade Orr (UT) def. Karim Benmansour/Matt Emery (UK) - 8-5 2.Rahim Esmail/Jesse Witten (UK) def. No. 37 Mark Henderson/Simon Rea (UT) - 8-6 3.Evan Austin/Alex Hume (UK) def. Vince Perna/Raul Martin (UT) - 8-4

Singles 1.No. 10 Jesse Witten (UK) def. No. 69 Mark Dietrich (UT) - 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (4) 2.No. 40 Simon Rea (UT) def. Evan Austin (UK) - 6-3, 6-4 3.Karim Benmansour (UK) def. Vince Perna (UT) - 6-2, 6-1 4.No. 104 Rahim Esmail (UK) def. Wade Orr (UT) - 7-5, 6-4 5.Matt Emery (UK) def. Mark Henderson (UT) - 6-2, 6-3 6.Alex Hume (UK) def. Raul Martin (UT) - 4-6, 6-1, 1-0 (9)

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