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OXFORD, Miss. – After more than a six-hour match, and a spot in the Southeastern Conference quarterfinals on the line, the eighth-seeded University of Kentucky men’s tennis team outlasted No. 9 Mississippi State, 4-2 at the Gillom Sports Center on the campus of Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss.
Freshman, and Bowling Green, Ky., native, Beck Pennington clinched the match on court five with a 7-6 (7), 6-0 win after more than 360 minutes of tennis action. Pennington and Mississippi State’s Zach White exchanged service holds for the opening 12 games of the match before an epic tiebreak decided the winner. Pennington had two set points at 6-4, and White fought back to make it 7-7. Pennington re-gained the mini break at 8-7, and served out the 9-7 win to take the opening set.
After an opening-game break to go up 1-0, Pennington easily broke again at 3-0, and 5-0 to earn himself three chances to serve out the match. The freshman calmly battled back from down 15-40 to earn deuce and then won the final two points of the match to clinch the match.
“Obviously, this is a very big win for the boys today,” UK head coach Cedric Kauffmann. “I thought we battled and competed so tough, and that is a big part of our success. We kind of found a spark at doubles with (Anthony) Rossi and (Juan Pablo) Murra, which I thought was big. Anytime you have players like Rossi and (Tom) Jomby, you have a chance to win any match you play. Having said that, there are still players we need to step up if we are going to win this championship. It’s a good win for the boys.”
In a tightly contested doubles point, the Wildcats were able to eek out wins on courts one and three to secure the point and get the early edge in the match. After the first 30 minutes of doubles were outdoors, the skies opened up, and the match was delayed, to be played indoors. Due to the length of the preceding match of Ole Miss and Alabama, it was some two-hours-plus before doubles play got back underway inside the Gillom Sports Center.
The first match to conclude was on court three, as Juan Pablo Murra teamed up with Anthony Rossi to collect an 8-5 win over Romain Bogaerts and Zach White of Mississippi State. The Wildcats served first and never lost serve in the match. The break was picked up at 4-3 in the first set as the Rossi and Murra took the 5-3 advantage and never looked back.
After the Bulldogs claimed the win on court two, the doubles point would ultimately end up being decided on court one in a top-10 showdown. No. 9 Tom Jomby and Kevin Lai picked up a break at 2-1 to take the early 3-1 edge and was up a break until the 5-3 mark of the match, when Mississippi State preceded to break back. The match would stay on serve up until the tiebreak. Jomby and Lai had four match points at 8-7 and love-40 up, but No. 10 Malte Stropp and Jordan Angus were able to get it back to deuce, save an advantage point, and force things to a tiebreak. In the tiebreak, MSU led 2-1 before Kentucky picked up the mini-break at 4-2 and won the next two points to take the 6-2 lead, and earn four more match points. After the Bulldogs cut the deficit to 6-4 in the tiebreak, a forehand into the net by Stropp ended the match, and gave the Wildcats the 9-8 (4) win on court one, and the doubles point.
With the win, Kentucky upped its doubles-point record to 20-12 on the season. In the two previous matches with Mississippi State, Kentucky was 1-1 in the doubles point, as UK won it in Seattle, while MSU claimed the early point in the teams’ regular-season match in Starkville.
Jomby would escalate the UK lead to 2-0 in the match as he had a swift dismissal of No. 55 Malte Stropp 6-3, 6-4. Jomby was down a break at 3-1 early in the second set, but fought and battled his way back onto serve and broke at 4-4 to take the win in straight sets. The win propelled Jomby to a 2-0 record this season vs. Stropp as he also defeated him 6-0, 6-2 in Seattle for the ITA National Indoor Championships. The win for Jomby pushed his season record to 19-5, including a 9-3 record in SEC play.
MSU would get a point with a 6-1, 6-3 win on court three to make the score 2-1. Charles Minc fell on court three to James Chaudry .
Kentucky would up its lead again to 3-1 as senior Anthony Rossi knocked off his 11th ranked opponent this season, in a 6-3, 7-5 win over No. 12 Romain Bogaerts. Rossi breezed through the opening set before Bogaerts made a push in the second set. Rossi fell down an early break before swiftly breaking back to push the final set back on serve at 4-4. After a handful of service holds, Rossi broke at 6-5 and served out the final game at love for the win. Rossi, with the win, improves to 21-5 on the season and 9-2 in SEC play.
After MSU closed the gap with a win on court four, it was all Pennington’s stage, as he clinched the match at 2:22 a.m. CT.
With the win, Kentucky advances to the quarterfinal round, where they will take on No. 1 seeded Georgia, who won the regular season championship, going 12-1 in SEC play this season. The match is scheduled to begin at 6:00 p.m. CT.
(8) Kentucky 4, (9) Mississippi State 2
Gillom Sports Center – Oxford, Miss.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Doubles (Order of finish: 3, 2, 1*)
1- No. 9 Tom Jomby/Kevin Lai (UK) def. No. 10 Malte Stropp/Jordan Angus (MSU) 9-8 (4)
2- Pedro Dumont/Ethan Wilkinson (MSU) def. Beck Pennington/Ryuji Hirooka (UK) 8-5
3- Anthony Rossi/Juan Pablo Murra (UK) def. Romain Bogaerts/Zach White (MSU) 8-5
Singles (Order of finish: 2, 3, 1, 4, 5*)
1- No. 17 Anthony Rossi (UK) def. No. 12 Romain Bogaerts (MSU) 6-3, 7-5
2- No. 21 Tom Jomby (UK) def. No. 55 Malte Stropp (MSU) 6-3, 6-4
3- James Chaudry (MSU) def. Charles Minc (UK) 6-1, 6-3
4- Jordan Angus (MSU) def. Kevin Lai (UK) 6-3, 6-2
5- Beck Pennington (UK) def. Zach White (MSU) 7-6 (7), 6-0
6- Pedro Dumont (MSU) led Juan Pablo Murra (UK) 6-1, 5-3 (DNF)
For more information regarding UK men’s tennis, log on to UKathletics.com.