LEXINGTON, Ky. (3/3/14) — The No. 25 University of Kentucky tennis team completed a Southeastern Conference opening-weekend sweep on Sunday afternoon, downing the No. 66 Arkansas Razorbacks, 6-1, at the Dills Indoor Tennis Center in Fayetteville, Ark.
“There are some good things that happened this weekend,” second year head coach Cedric Kauffmann said. “Coming out 2-0 on a single weekend in our conference is not easy at all. I believe that we got a little bit of confidence back. We have a long way to go, still, and we have to continue to get better and better. We can play better than this, and we will continue to keep working until we reach our potential and achieve our goals.”
In the doubles point, Kentucky cultivated to a new lineup well, as Kevin Lai sat out to satisfy the 25-match rule according to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association protocol. That meant that Beck Pennington and Alejandro Gomez stepped up to the No. 1 slot, with Tom Jomby sliding down to the No. 2 slot to play with newcomer Jerry Lopez on the second court. On the third court was senior Grant Roberts teaming with fellow senior Ryuji Hirooka in the shuffled lineup for the Wildcats.
Roberts and Hirooka had no problems at all with Jovan Parlic and Johan den Toom, as they quickly dismissed them on court three, 8-2. Roberts and Hirooka jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead up double-break and never let off the gas pedal.
“Today was another good win for the team,” Roberts said. “It’s always good to start off SEC play 2-0. Today was not my day in singles, but what’s great about college tennis is that I have amazing teammates to make up for it. Now we need to get back to work and get ready for Texas A&M next weekend.”
On court two, Kentucky’s new pair of Jomby and Lopez got a break at 4-3 to go up 5-3 and held on to that break for the rest of the match to seal the 1-0 lead for Kentucky. The match was on serve through the first seven games before Jomby and Lopez broke to hold down the second court.
Court one with Pennington and Gomez saw the Wildcat duo trailing a break early, until they broke back at 5-4 to get the match level at 5-5. Gomez and Pennington would exchange holds with No. 56 Manfred Jeske and Mike Nott of Arkansas before Jomby and Lopez clinched the doubles point, and the match was halted at 6-6, on serve.
“I thought we communicated well in doubles and the intensity was really high,” Lai said after the match, “It was good to win two matches on the road.”
In singles, just as the case was on Friday at LSU, the Wildcats won five of the six singles matches, only dropping court five.
The first singles match to finish was Hirooka on court six as he had no problems with Juan Martino of Arkansas, and won 6-1, 6-2. Hirooka got up a double-break lead early in both sets and cruised to the straight-set win to give the Wildcats the 2-0 lead in the match. Hirooka went 2-0 on the day, winning both his singles and doubles matches.
On court three, Beck Pennington won his second-straight match as he defeated Hall Fess in straight sets at 6-4, 6-4. Pennington broke late in both sets to collect the win. Pennington is now 2-0 in SEC play to start off the season, one of four UK players to do so. The Elizabethtown, Ky. native’s win puts Kentucky up 3-0 with only needing one more match to break their way to clinch the win.
“I feel like we are starting to play together as a team better,” Pennington said. “We are playing with more confidence and hopefully we can continue playing this well against Texas A&M on Friday.”
Freshman Jerry Lopez clinched his second-straight and second-career match on Sunday afternoon with a 6-4, win on court four to give the Wildcats a 2-0 record in the SEC. Lopez was down an early break in the second set after rallying to take the first set. The Puerto Vallarta, Mexico native then got the break back and broke to win the match, winning the second set, and the match, 6-4. Lopez has now clinched both SEC wins this season for Kentucky as UK is 2-0 in SECplay.
Kentucky’s Alejandro Gomez won a tiebreak in the first set, 7-6, to gain the momentum on court two. Gomez then collected a 6-4 win in the second set as the Cali, Colombia, native etched his 63rd-career win with a 7-6, 6-4 win on court two. Gomez now is 7-2 on the year, and undefeated in SEC play.
Senior Tom Jomby continued his blistering start to the season, as he defeated Mike Nott on court one, 5-6, 6-4, 1-0 (4) after the match had been clinched. The win for Jomby was the 79th of his career and his 12th of the season. Jomby is now 12-1 on the season and playing some of the best tennis of his career.
“Jerry Lopez and I played solid in the doubles,” Jomby said after the win. “It was a lot of fun to play with him. I didn’t feel great in the singles, but I was glad to turn it around in the middle of the second set. We are really happy to be 2-0 in the SEC. Our coaching staff is telling us that we have to get better each week, and that’s what we will have to do to play against a good Texas A&M team next weekend.”UK returns home to Lexington for the first time in four weeks, as the Wildcats will take on top-10 ranked Texas A&M on Friday, March 7, at 5 p.m. ET at the Hilary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Center.
Information provided by UK Athletics
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