LEXINGTON, Ky. – For the first time in program history, the University of Kentucky men’s tennis team advanced to its fourth-straight NCAA Sweet 16, as the eighth-ranked Wildcats won the Lexington Regional final, 4-1, over No. 41 Virginia Tech at the Hilary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Center in Lexington, Ky.
“I am just happy for the guys, UK head coach Cedric Kauffmann said, who earns his first-career Sweet 16 appearance as a head coach. “They have been working hard since September and we have been stressing out the championship season. The SEC Championship, the SEC Tournament and the NCAA’s. We are playing good.”
With the win in the regional final, Kentucky advances to its fourth-straight Sweet 16 for the first time in program history. UK had twice moved through to three straight Sweet 16s before Saturday’s win over the Hokies.
Kentucky raced out to a fast start in doubles play, dictating the play at courts one and three, where they would clinch the point.
No. 9 Tom Jomby and Kevin Lai only dropped one of the nine games played in the match, as the ninth-ranked tandem in the nation breezed to an 8-1 win over No. 80 Andreas Bjerrehus Hunter Koontz of Virginia Tech.
On court three, newly-formed tandem Anthony Rossi and Juan Pablo Murra fell behind an early break in the match at 1-2, but then rattled off wins in seven of the last eight games to win their match over Amerigo Contini/Marko Lovrinovic, 8-3.
Kentucky upped its record to 14-2 on the season when it wins the doubles point, as the Wildcats won both of the doubles points in this weekend’s regional in Lexington.
In singles play, Kentucky dominated three matches, putting a swift end to the match by virtue of wins on courts one, two and five.
On court two, Tom Jomby won his 21st match of the season, putting No. 97 Andreas Bjerrehus in a hole early and never letting him back into the match. Jomby won 6-1, 6-2 to complete his 2-0 weekend, and collect his 13th win of the season over a ranked singles opponent.
On court one, it was more of the same for senior Anthony Rossi, who played his final match of his career at the Hilary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Center on Saturday afternoon. Rossi defeated No. 61 Amerigo Contin 6-0, 6-2, collecting his team-high 24th win of the season. Rossi defeated his 12th ranked opponent of the season, and upped his record in 2013 to 24-5. Rossi was the third win of the match for the Wildcats, as they took the early 3-0 lead.
The clinching match came again from Lexington, Ky., native Grant Roberts on court five as he downed Lucas Oliveira, 6-0, 6-2. The win was Roberts’ second-straight clinching win as he now has clinched over six matches for the Wildcats this season. Roberts also clinched the match over No. 8 Oklahoma, No. 10 Mississippi State, No. 6 Georgia, and Friday’s win over Western Michigan. The win was in an impressive one hour and six minutes as the junior brought home the win for the Wildcats.
With the win, Kentucky will next travel to Champaign-Urbana, Ill., as they will face ninth-seeded Duke for a spot in the Elite Eight. UK and Duke will face off at 8:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, May 16 at the Atkins Tennis Center.
NCAA Men’s Tennis Championship
Second Round – Lexington Regional – Lexington, Ky.
Hilary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Center
No. 8 Kentucky 4, No. 41 Virginia Tech 1
Doubles: (Order of finish: 1, 3*)
1- No. 9 Tom Jomby/Kevin Lai (UK) def. No. 80 Andreas Bjerrehus/Hunter Koontz (VT) 8-1
2- Beck Pennington/Ryuji Hirooka (UK) vs. Amerigo Contini/Marko Lovrinovic (VT) 7-4 (Abd.)
3- Anthony Rossi/Juan Pablo Murra (UK) def. Joao Montiero/Lucas Oliveira (VT) 8-3
Singles: (Order of finish: 2, 1, 6, 5*)
1- No. 5 Anthony Rossi (UK) def. No. 61 Amerigo Contin (VT) 6-0, 6-2
2- No. 23 Tom Jomby (UK) def. No. 97 Andreas Bjerrehus (VT) 6-1, 6-2
3- Hunter Koontz (VT) led Charles Minc (UK) 6-3, 4-3 (Abd.)
4- Joao Mintiero (VT) led Kevin Lai (UK) 6-2, 5-4 (Abd.)
5- Grant Roberts (UK) def. Lucas Oliveira (VT) 6-0, 6-2
6- Aaron Gomez (VT) def. Beck Pennington (UK) 7-5, 6-1
Kentucky Head Coach Cedric Kauffmann
Opening statement …
“I am just happy for the guys. They have been working hard since September and we have been stressing out the championship season. The SEC Championship, the SEC Tournament and the NCAA’s. We are playing good.”
On how they played today …
“I thought we played a little slow in the doubles and then kind of settled in. The round of 32 is always kind of a tricky match with the Sweet 16 on the line. I thought we played a lot better in the doubles. Throughout the year, our one two and (Grant) Roberts have kind of been carrying us on their backs. Beck (Pennington) has been playing really, really good through the year. At three and four, we didn’t play so good, but if you play four good points, I guess that’s all you need.
Virginia Tech Head Coach Jim Thompson
“Kentucky played really well. We thought we got off to a good start in the doubles, but then they came storming back and pretty much steam rolled us in the doubles. Then in the singles, we got a couple of courts where we got some momentum but at courts one and two we never got in the matches and UK played really, really well. Give them lots of credit, they are a very good team and had a really good year. We gave them our best shot.”
On the positive aspects of the team going into next season…
“We have lots to work on, but we had a great year. We lost a lot of close matches but we start four freshman, one sophomore and one senior so I think we have a young team with a nucleus to build around and hope to be back in this same position next year.”
For more information regarding UK men’s tennis, log on to UKathletics.com.