LEXINGTON, Ky. - The No. 9 University of Kentucky men's tennis team advanced to the championship match in the Lexington, Ky., regional of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's Kick-Off Weekend with a thrilling 4-2 win over No. 47 Michigan State on Friday afternoon at the Hilary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Center.
"Overall, we had a really good performance," UK head coach Cedric Kauffmann said. "Michigan State is a very good team, and even though they may be ranked around 50 in the country, they play better than that. With that being said, we know that we will have to play better tomorrow if we want to beat Texas or South Carolina."
UK improved to 4-0 on the season in the doubles competition, once again clinching the two matches necessary to earn the point in the match. Friday's doubles' wins came on courts one and three, as No. 35 Tom Jomby/Kevin Lai continued their great play earning an 8-5 win on court No. 1. In addition, senior captain Anthony Rossi and Grant Roberts paired up to clinch the point with an 8-5 win on court No. 3 to give UK the 1-0 lead in the match.
"The doubles point is always important," Kauffmann said. "When you win it, you get a lot of momentum, it's a point on the board and we know how difficult it is to win four out of the six singles matches. We know that if we want to be the team we know we can become, we are going to have to win some matches when we don't win the doubles point, but it always helps."
Junior Tom Jomby got singles started off the right way for Kentucky, earning a 6-0, 6-1 win over the Spartans Drew Lied in less than an hour to give Kentucky the quick 2-0 overall lead in the match. Jomby played a splendid match, crushing his serve for the duration of the match, and playing solid tennis while on defense. Jomby did not drop serve the entire match and was solid throughout the course of the afternoon.
Kentucky would up its lead to 3-0 when Rossi would deliver a great performance in the second-set tiebreaker and clinch yet another straight-set win for the senior. Rossi took his match on court No. 1 over the Spartan's ace Aaron Pfister 6-2, 7-6 (4). The win for the No. 94-ranked player in the country upped his record to 4-0 on the young season and he is also undefeated in doubles on the 2013 season as well.
"I really liked what I saw out of my captain today," Kauffmann said. "I am proud of the way he was able to play today and get the win for us. That match was a big win for us and he is really playing well."
Michigan State would earn its first point on the afternoon when Gijs Linders of Michigan State knocked off Alejandro Gomez in straight sets 6-3, 6-2. The point made the overall score in the match 3-1 before Sparty would climb back in it.
MSU condensed UK's lead to 3-2 when true freshman John Patrick Mulland of Michigan State claimed a three-set win over Juan Pablo Murra for Kentucky 6-2, 2-6, 6-4. The final set was a back-and-forth affair, with many long rallies and counterpunching points, as Mulland and Murra held serve for the final set up until 5-4 in the third. Mulland served first in the final frame and broke at 5-4 to claim the match.
The two points would be all Michigan State could muster on the afternoon, as Kentucky took control of the No. 5 and 6 matches from the beginning. In the third wave of matches, sophomore transfer Charlie Minc clinched the match for UK with a 6-3, 6-0 win and Grant Roberts was ahead in his match a set and a break when the match was abandoned.
Minc, who just joined the team days ago after transferring, clinched the match on court No. 5 and improved to 2-0 on the season in singles after picking up a win in Bloomington in UK's road win at No. 22 Indiana on Wednesday.
"I was really proud of the way Charlie played today," Kauffmann said. I thought he came out ready to play and was very businesslike from the start of the match. He is a very good player with a lot of potential for us, so it was good to see him perform like that again in the match."
Roberts was ahead in his match 6-4, 2-0 when the match was called and was serving very well for the Wildcats and was solid in the defensive court.
"I was happy with the effort and intensity we came out with today," Kauffmann said. "Our level of play was not where we ideally would have liked it to have been, but it's the guys first time playing in a tournament format like this. We have now played at home, on the road and a tournament format, so we are learning everyday."
With the win, Kentucky advances to the Lexington Regional Championship match at 5:00 p.m. ET on Saturday afternoon at the Hilary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Center. UK will face off against the winner of the Texas/South Carolina match. The winner of the regional will be one of 16 teams that will compete for the ITA National Indoor Championships in Seattle, Wash., in mid-February.
No. 9 Kentucky 4, No. 47 Michigan State 2
Hilary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Center - Lexington, Ky.
January 25, 2012
Doubles (Order of finish: 1, 3*)
1- No. 35 Tom Jomby/Kevin Lai def. Aaron Pfister/Drew Lied (MSU) 8-5
2- Alejandro Gomez/Ryuji Hirooka (UK) vs. Gijs Linders/Harry Jadum (MSU) 7-6 (abd.)
3- Grant Roberts/ Anthony Rossi (UK) def. John Patrick Mulland/Denis Bogatov (MSU) 8-5
Singles (Order of finish: 2, 1, 3, 4, 5*)
1- No. 94 Anthony Rossi (UK) def. Aaron Pfister (MSU) 6-2, 7-6 (4)
2- No. 15 Tom Jomby (UK) def. Drew Lied (MSU) 6-0, 6-1
3- Gijs Linders (MSU) def. Alejandro Gomez (UK) 6-3, 6-2
4- John Patrick Mulland (MSU) def. Juan Pablo Murra (UK) 6-2, 2-6, 6-4
5- Charles Minc (UK) def. Denis Bogatov (MSU) 6-3, 6-0
6- Grant Roberts (UK) vs. Will Davis (MSU) 6-4, 2-0 (abd.)
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