Tennis Cats Advance to SEC Quarterfinals with Win Over Vanderbilt
Fifth-seeded Kentucky Knocks Out No. 12-seed Vanderbilt, 4-1
The University of Kentucky men's tennis team came back after losing the doubles point to defeat the Vanderbilt Commodores in the opening round of the Southeastern Conference Championship in Lexington, Ky., on Thursday, April 19. The Cats used big singles victories to take over the Commodores and win the match, 4-1.
Kentucky fell behind early as Vanderbilt took the No. 1 and No. 3 doubles matches to earn the point. Eddie Coates and Bobby Reynolds of Vanderbilt took out UK's tandem of juniors Reven Stephens and Johan Grunditz, 8-5, while Kentucky freshman Matt Emery and junior Gustav Pousette fell to VU's Brad Hambrick and Lewis Smith on court three, 8-6.
Senior Edo Bawono, the nation's 45th-ranked player, evened the score at one with a singles win at No. 1, avenging a loss on April 8 to Eddie Coates, by knocking off the 43rd-ranked Coates in straight sets. Grunditz gave the Cats their second point at No. 4 when he won an outstanding second set tiebreak, 10-8, to take the match 6-1, 7-6 (8). Freshman Rahim Esmail won his match after holding Hambrick scoreless in the second-set tiebreak, while UK claimed the team victory as freshman Karim Benmansour took out Chad Harris with a first-set tiebreak win and a 6-2 tally in the second set on court two.
"I'm really pleased with the way we played today," Coach Dennis Emery said. "This is the second time this season that we've come back and won the match after losing the doubles point. To do that against a great team like Vandy really shows this team's will to win."
With the win, the Cats advance to the quarterfinals on Friday, April 20, to face Ole Miss at 4 p.m. Kentucky lost a heartbreaker earlier this season to the Rebels, 4-3, in Lexington. UK notched the doubles point in that match but dropped two matches in three sets, including the game-clinching match which saw Esmail fall to UM's Patrick Chucri with a third-set tiebreak tally of 7-3. Also advancing in the morning matches were South Carolina, who upset Auburn, 4-1, to face second-seed Tennessee at 12 p.m. on Friday, while sixth-seed Alabama knocked off 11th-seed Florida, 4-0. The Crimson Tide will face third-seed LSU in Friday's first match at 9 a.m. No. 1-seed Georgia will face the winner of the Mississippi State/Arkansas match that was still being played at press time.
Singles No. 1 #45 Edo Bawono (UK) def. #43 Eddie Coates (VU) 6-3, 6-2 No. 2 Karim Benmansour (UK) def. Chad Harris (VU) 7-6 (5), 6-2 No. 3 Matt Emery (UK) vs. Bobby Reynolds (VU) 7-6 (5), 3-6, Ab. No. 4 Johan Grunditz (UK) def. Jens Frederikson (VU) 6-1, 7-6 (8) No. 5 Gustav Pousette (UK) vs. Zach Dailey (VU) 4-6, 6-2, 3-2, Ab. No. 6 Rahim Esmail (UK) def. Brad Hambrick (VU) 6-4, 7-6 (0) Doubles No. 1 Coates/Reynolds (VU) def. Grunditz/Reven Stephens (UK) 8-5 No. 2 Bawono/Benmansour (UK) vs. Harris/Tarkoff (VU) 7-6, Ab. No. 3 Hambrick/Lewis Smith (VU) def. Emery/Pousette (UK) 8-6