"Any win in the tournament is a good win,” UK head coach Cedric Kauffmann said. “We knew that Ole Miss was a very dangerous team the last two to three weeks of the season. They took out Texas A&M and Tennessee, so they took out two top 18 teams. I thought they were coming in confident, so it's a very good win for us.”
With the win, Kentucky advances to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament and will face the winner of (2) Texas A&M and (7) South Carolina Saturday morning 11 a.m. ET/10 a.m. CT in Nashville. This is Kentucky’s first SEC Tournament semifinal appearance under head coach Cedric Kauffmann.
In the doubles, which started 9 a.m. CT, the Wildcats came out strong on court two as Alejandro Gomez and Beck Pennington extended their winning streak to nine matches with an 8-6 win on court two. Gomez and Pennington got up double-break early on in the match at 6-2 before the Ole Miss pairing of Nik Scholtz and Ricardo Jorge got one break back to make it 5-4 and push UK to the edge. Gomez and Pennington then served out the final two service games to give the Wildcats the 8-6 win on court two.
On court one, No. 39 Tom Jomby and Kevin Lai were taking on William Kallburg and Stefan Lindmark and got broken early in the match as Ole Miss took the 2-1 lead. Jomby and Lai then responded with a break of their own to push it to 2-2, where the two teams exchanged service holds for the rest of the match up until 6-6. Jomby and Lai then broke at 6-6 to take the 7-6 lead and then served out the 8-6 win.
With Kentucky going up 1-0 in the match, the Wildcats were in a good position, as UK this season is 12-2 when it wins the doubles point.
In singles, Ole Miss, seeded No. 11 in the SEC Tournament, and advancing to the quarterfinals with a 4-2 win over No. 6 seeded Tennessee Thursday morning, made things interesting collecting two singles wins in four incredibly tight matches.
Kentucky took a 2-0 lead overall in the match when sophomore Kevin Lai won his match6-3, 6-3 on court five after collecting two breaks, one in each set to close out his win. Lai broke early in the second set after serving out the first set and led 4-1 in the second frame. Lai then served out the win to make it 2-0.
Ole Miss would cut Kentucky’s lead in half at 2-1 on court three just a few minutes later. Sophomore Beck Pennington fell 6-3, 7-5 on court three as the Rebels got back into the match. Pennington got up a break early in the second set after dropping the opening frame, but Ole Miss’ Stefan Lindmark fought back to get the match on serve and served out the 11th game of the set to take a 6-5 lead. With Pennington serving at 6-5, the Bowling Green, Ky., native was broken, and thus lost the match 7-5 in the second set.
Senior Grant Roberts on court six was the next court to finish, as he collected a 6-3, 6-4 win on court six to collect a 3-1 lead overall for the Wildcats. Roberts broke early in the first set, going up 4-1 to take control early. After falling behind 0-2 in the second set, Roberts then broke at four all in the second set to go up 5-4 and then collected a service hold to give Kentucky the 3-1 lead.
"I'm very proud of my five and six (players) today,” Kauffmann said. “I thought they closed their matches out the way they needed to for us to get to three and put a little bit of pressure on them (Ole Miss)."
After Ole Miss cut the Kentucky lead to 3-2, it was senior Alejandro Gomez’s turn to step up, and the Cali, Colombia, native then dug deep and collected a 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-3 win on court two to clinch the match. Gomez dropped a break early on in the first set, but was able to break at 5-4 to push the opening set into a tiebreaker. He led 3-1 before Gomez then lost the next six-straight points and William Kallburg took the opening set, 7-6.
Gomez then forced a third set after collecting the second set 7-5. In the start of the third set, Gomez served out a 1-0 lead after trailing 15-40 and then broke on his first break point of the set to take the 2-0 lead. After a service hold, he led 3-0 in the deciding set. Gomez then after a hold from Kallburg was broken for 3-2 and the second set was back on serve. Gomez broke back for the 4-2 lead. At 5-3, Gomez served out the match with an ace at 40-30, clinching the semifinal spot for the Wildcats.
Gomez has now won six singles matches and nine doubles matches in a row, with hislast loss in either action coming back April 2, a stretch of matches more than two weeks long.
"I'm very, very proud of my captain,” Kauffmann said. “He played great under pressure, bounced back after losing the first set, played with energy, and then had some guts to close it out."
Kentucky advances to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament and will face the winner of (2) Texas A&M and (7) South Carolina Saturday morning 11 a.m. ET/10 a.m. CT in Nashville.
Doubles (Order of finish: 2, 3)
Singles (Order of finish: 3, 5, 6, 1, 2)
Information provided by UK Athletics
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