OXFORD, Miss. – The No. 11 University of Kentucky men’s tennis team gave the Southeastern Conference champions, and number-one overall seed in the SEC Tournament, Georgia Bulldogs, all they could handle on a crisp April night at the Pallom/Salloum Tennis Center in Oxford, Miss., as the Wildcats fell just one point shy of a win, dropping the match 4-3 to UGA.
The match came down to the final set of the final court, as No. 46 Nathan Pasha was able to hang on and come from a set and a break down to top Charles Minc 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the clinching match.
“I don’t think that a lot of people thought that we had a chance of keeping this match close tonight,” UK head coach Cedric Kauffmann said. “We were without our number three and four players tonight, and pushed one of the best teams in the country to the brink. I told our guys in the locker room I am proud, but still disappointed.”
The three singles wins for Kentucky came from courts one, four and five. On court one, No. 17 Anthony Rossi (UK) def. No. 6 KU Singh (UGA) 7-6 (5), 6-3. With the win, Rossi picked up his 12th win of the season against a ranked opponent, as he knocked off Singh for the second time in two tries this season. The Wildcats senior leader took a first-set tiebreaker and then found himself in a roller coaster second set. Rossi eventually broke at 3-4 and served out the match at 6-3 in the second for the win.
On court four, Kevin Lai earned his first-career win at the number four slot, as he battled back from behind to take the 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over No. 125 Hernus Pieters of Georgia. Lai broke at 3-2 in the final set when there were just two courts remaining, and UK needing both matches in the dark of the night. Lai broke at 5-3, and won the match, 6-3 in the third set. The win for Lai was his first-career win over a ranked singles opponent.
Beck Pennington also picked up a big win for his resume as he defeated Austin Smith, 6-3, 7-6 (3) on court five. The win marked a 2-0 SEC Tournament for the freshman from Bowling Green, Ky., and upped his overall singles record this season to 11-1, and only one loss in the conference play.
The NCAA Selection Show will be held online at NCAA.com live on April 30, at 5:00 p.m. ET. The 64-team field will be announced live online and put into 16 pods of four teams. The top 16 teams in the nation will host the first and second rounds. Kentucky entered the weekend ranked No. 11 in the field, and knocked off a top-10 team in No. 9 Mississippi State on Thursday night.
2013 SEC Tournament Quarterfinals
(1) Georgia 4, (8) Kentucky 3
Pallom/Salloum Tennis Center – Oxford, Miss.
Friday, April 19, 2013
Doubles (Order of finish: 3, 1*)
1- No. 6 Hernus Pieters/Ben Wagland def. No. 9 Tom Jomby/Kevin Lai (UK) 8-6
2- Beck Pennington/Ryuji Hirooka (UK) vs. No. 23 Nathan Pasha/Garrett Brassaux (UGA) 8-8 (Abd.)
3- Marco Nunez/KU Singh (UGA) def. Anthony Rossi/Juan Pablo Murra (UK) 8-5
Singles (Order of finish: 6 ,5, 2, 1, 4, 3*)
1- No. 17 Anthony Rossi (UK) def. No. 6 KU Singh (UGA) 7-6 (5), 6-3
2- No. 53 Ben Wagland (UGA) def. No. 21 Tom Jomby (UK) 6-1, 1-6, 6-1
3- No. 46 Nathan Pasha (UGA) def. Charles Minc (UK) 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
4- Kevin Lai (UK) def. No. 125 Hernus Pieters (UGA) 2-6, 6-4, 6-3
5- Beck Pennington (UK) def. Austin Smith (UGA) 6-3, 7-6 (3)
6- Garrett Brassaux (UGA) def. Juan Pablo Murra (UK) 6-3, 6-1
For more information regarding UK men’s tennis, log on to UKathletics.com.