SEATTLE, Wash. – After falling behind 2-0 early on in the match, the seventh ranked University of Kentucky men’s tennis team used singles play to pick up wins on courts one, two, five and six to power their way past No. 6 Georgia, 4-2 on Sunday afternoon in the final day of action at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s National Indoor Championships inside the Nordstrom Tennis Center on the campus of the University of Washington in Seattle.
“This was a great, gutsy performance by my boys today,” UK head coach Cedric Kauffmann said. “We bounced back really well after the doubles point and I am proud of the heart that they showed in the match.”
The clinching match in singles came on court five as junior and Lexington, Ky., native Grant Roberts came back from down a set to edge Garrett Brasseaux 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (2) and clinch the win for the Wildcats. Roberts dropped the first set before picking up an early break 3-2 in the second set to hold things steady and he won the final four games of the set to force a third set at 6-2. In the third set, Roberts fell down an early break at 3-2 before breaking Brasseaux at 4-3 to get things level at four all. The two would exchange the final four games of the match to force a tiebreaker. In the tiebreaker, Roberts got up a mini-break early and never looked back, taking the tiebreaker 7-2 and clinching the final point on an overrule from the chair.
The win gave Roberts his third match-clinching match on the season, as he had additionally clinched the match against No. 8 Oklahoma and No. 29 Notre Dame.
The first point in the match was the doubles point, which went to the Georgia Bulldogs. Georgia picked up wins on courts two and three to clinch the point. On court two, the Bulldogs went ahead double break at 3-0 early in the match and never surrendered the lead as Nathan Pasha and Brasseaux downed UK’s Alejandro Gomez and Ryuji Hirooka 8-4. On court three, Kentucky earned the break to start the match and held it for most of the duration of the match. UK lost the break at 5-4, and UGA would hang on to win the match and the doubles point with an 8-5 win on court three.
“It was tough to lose the doubles point, because we had our chances. We had a couple of break points on a couple different spots, but were unable to convert.” Kauffmann said.
Georgia (5-3) took a 2-0 lead in the match when No. 41 Hernus Pieters knocked off Gomez 6-1, 6-2 on court three. Gomez lost his serve early in both sets and was not able to fight out of the hole against Pieters as the Dawgs went up 2-0.
Kentucky (10-2) would then come back to win the next four singles matches to clinch the win, beginning with Kevin Lai’s win on court six. Lai got up a break at 2-0 in the opening set and rode that out, picking up an insurance break late in the set to capture the 6-2 win. In the second set, Lai would break at 3-2 and go up 4-2 before serving the match out at 6-3 in the second set to get Kentucky on the board.
No. 29 Tom Jomby would square the match on court two with a straight-sets win over No. 92 Ben Wagland of Georgia, 6-4, 6-4. Both sets were relatively similar as Jomby picked up a single break in both frames to give himself the straight-sets win. Jomby’s break came at 3-3 in the opening set to give him 4-3 where he served it out at 6-4. In the second set, Jomby held serve at 5-3 in a prolonged game that saw three deuces before he catapulted a forehand winner down the line to give the Wildcats their second point in the match.
Kentucky would see the front end of the scoreboard for the first time all afternoon when No. 90 Anthony Rossi defeated No. 21 Nathan Pasha in straight sets 6-4, 7-6 (7). Rossi broke in the first set at 3-2 to go up 4-2 where he would hold the rest of the way to close out the set at 6-4. In the second set, all 12 games were holds of serve as the duo entered the tiebreak deadlocked at six all. In the tiebreak, Rossi dropped his serve early, as Pasha took the early lead before Rossi struck for three-straight points from down 3-4 to up 6-4 where he would close out the tiebreaker after serving at 9-7.
On court four, Charles Minc was just two points away from capturing the match, as he had a major comeback in the later part of the match. Minc dropped the opening set 6-4 before righting the ship and charging back for a 6-1 second-set win to force a crucial set. Minc dropped his serve at 1-1 before getting it back at 2-1 and going up a break at 3-1 in the final frame. Minc would have an opportunity to clinch the match for Kentucky by serving it out at 5-3, but was broken at love, opening the door for Roberts to close out the match on court five.
Roberts dropped the first set before picking up an early break 3-2 in the second set to hold things steady and he won the final four games of the set to force a third set at 6-2. In the third set, Roberts fell down an early break at 3-2 before breaking Brasseaux at 4-3 to get things level at four all. The two would exchange the final four games of the match to force a tiebreaker. In the tiebreaker, Roberts got up a mini-break early and never looked back, taking the tiebreaker 7-2 and clinching the final point on an overrule from the chair.
Minc’s match was abandoned with Minc up 0-30 on UGA’s Nick Wood with Wood serving down 4-5.
“We didn’t panic in the locker room and the guys did a really good job of coming out and playing extremely tough, solid singles matches to get the win.” Kauffmann said.
With the major win, Kentucky now has defeated a monstrous six teams ranked in the ITA top-25. UK has knocked off seven ranked teams in the top-50 of the country with wins over No. 22 Indiana (5-2), No. 47 Michigan State (4-2), No. 17 Texas (4-1), No. 8 Oklahoma (4-3), No. 29 Notre Dame (4-3), No. 10 Mississippi State (4-0) and No. 6 Georgia (4-2). Kentucky is 3-1 this year against teams in the top 10.
Kentucky will hit the road again for its next two matches a week from Sunday, as the Wildcats will face off against Samford and Jacksonville State in a doubleheader on Feb. 24 in Birmingham, Ala. The first match with Samford will start at 10:00 a.m. ET, with the second match against JSU slated for 2:00 p.m. ET.
“We will go home and get better. Even though we are coming home with a 2-1 record this weekend, we still are not satisfied with where we are. We will work at it as hard as we can and get ready for the outdoor season to start in the coming weeks, but today was a great win for the boys.” Kauffmann said.
No. 7 Kentucky 4, No. 6 Georgia 2
Nordstrom Tennis Center – Seattle, Wash.
February 17, 2013
Doubles: (Order of finish: 2, 3*)
1- No. 5 Hernus Pieters/Ben Wagland (UGA) led No. 34 Tom Jomby/Kevin Lai (UK) 7-6 (abd.)
2- Nathan Pasha/Garrett Brasseaux (UGA) def. Alejandro Gomez/Ryuji Hirooka (UK) 8-4
3- Austin Smith/Nick Wood (UGA) def. Grant Roberts/Anthony Rossi (UK) 8-5
Singles: (Order of finish: 3, 6, 2, 1, 5*)
1- No. 90 Anthony Rossi (UK) def. No. 21 Nathan Pasha (UGA) 6-4, 7-6 (7)
2- No. 29 Tom Jomby (UK) def. No. 92 Ben Wagland (UGA) 6-4, 6-4
3- No. 41 Hernus Pieters (UGA) def. Alejandro Gomez (UK) 6-1, 6-2
4- Charles Minc (UK) led Nick Wood (UGA) 4-6, 6-2, 5-4 (abd.)
5- Grant Roberts (UK) def. Austin Smith (UGA) 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (2)
6- Kevin Lai (UK) def. Garrett Brasseaux (UGA) 6-2, 6-3
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