LEXINGTON, Ky. – The eighth-ranked University of Kentucky men’s tennis team fell on the road to the No. 22 South Carolina Gamecocks, 4-3 on Sunday in another close match that came down to the final points of the final court of the afternoon.
“Another really tough loss for us today,” UK head coach Cedric Kauffmann said. "Out of our 10 losses this season, we are in eight of them with chances to win, but have just come up a little short. We are not finding six players in doubles and six players in singles that play at the level we need to win these matches. We instead only have three, four, or less. Losing Alejandro Gomez is a big loss for us and it has shown over the last couple of weeks. We have the SEC Tournament next week and we have lost some confidence and swagger, and it is my job to get it back. I still really believe we are still a team that can make a run in the end of the year.”
Kentucky dropped the doubles point for the second-consecutive match as South Carolina won courts two and three to clinch the wins over the Wildcats. On court one, No. 8 Tom Jomby and Kevin Lai held their own, winning 8-6 over Chip Cox and Tsvetan Mihov of South Carolina.
In singles, Kentucky got wins from courts one, two and five. No. 19 Anthony Rossi had a quick dismissal of No. 67 Tsvetan Mihov 6-2, 6-2 to get Kentucky right back in the match and level the overall score at 1-1.
Tom Jomby also beat a ranked opponent on Saunday for the second-consecutive match as he sailed past No. 102 Andrew Adams of South Carolina, 6-4, 6-4. Jomby was down a break in both sets before rallying from behind to take the win in both sets with breaks of serve to close out the match.
Kevin Lai got back on a winning track with a win Sunday, knocking off Chip Cox, 6-3, 6-4. Lai had lost a handful of matches in a row before following it up with the win on Sunday. Lai got the win in the No. 5 position for the Wildcats, and gave UK the 3-1 lead at the time. The Gamecocks would win on court three, as Charles Minc fell 6-4, 6-3 to Thiago Pinheiro of the Gamecocks, which made the score 3-2 Kentucky.
In the final moments of the match, both courts four and six were back and forth as both teams were looking for momentum down the stretch. Grant Roberts faced two match points in a second-set tiebreaker before rallying to make the score 8-8 in the breaker. Roberts then lost the final two points of the match, and fell 7-6, 7-6 to Kyle Koch.
For the second-straight match, the Wildcats’ fate came down to the final court, as Beck Pennington was on courts six and represented the deciding match overall. Pennington lost the first set, before battling back to force a third set with a 6-3 second-set win. Down a break early in the third, Pennington broke at 2-4, and then served out two holds to take the 5-4 lead. After Harry Menzies of South Carolina held, he broke Pennington and then served out the 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 win on court six to give the Gamecocks the win."
The SEC Tournament bracket will be released later this afternoon from the SEC office, as the Wildcats will travel to Oxford, Miss., to compete in the 2013 SEC Tournament. UK has made the championship match in back-to-back years.
No. 22 South Carolina 4, No. 8 Kentucky 3
Carolina Tennis Center – Columbia, S.C.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Doubles (Order of finish: 2, 1, 3*)
1- No. 8 Tom Jomby/Kevin Lai (UK) def. No. 18 Chip Cox/Tsvetan Mihox (USC) 8-6
2- No. 84 Kyle Koch/Harry Menzies (USC) def. Grant Roberts/Anthony Rossi (UK) 8-5
3- Andrew Adams/Thiago Pinherio (USU) def. Ryuji Hirooka/Beck Pennington (UK) 9-8 (4)
Singles (Order of finish: 1, 5, 2, 3, 4, 6*)
1- No. 19 Anthony Rossi (UK) def. No. 67 Tsvetan Mihov (USC) 6-2, 6-2
2- No. 21 Tom Jomby (UK) def. No. 102 Andrew Adams (USC) 6-4, 6-4
3- Thiago Pinherio (USC) def. Charles Minc (UK) 6-4, 6-3
4- Kyle Kock (USC) def. Grant Roberts (UK) 7-6, 7-6
5- Kevin Lai (UK) def. Chip Cox (USC) 6-3, 6-4
6- Harry Menzies (USC) def. Beck Pennington (UK) 6-3, 3-6, 7-5