With wins on courts one, two, five and six in singles play, the seventh-ranked University of Kentucky men’s tennis team knocked off No. 29 Notre Dame 4-3 on Tuesday afternoon in the front end of a doubleheader that was held in Lexington.
In the nightcap, UK picked up its eighth win of the season to move to 8-1 as the Wildcats picked up a 6-1 win over Eastern Kentucky.
“I was really proud of our guys today,” UK assistant coach Matt Emery said. “It’s never easy to come out after a tough loss. I thought we came out really flat in the doubles, and so we dug ourselves a little bit of a hole. It is not easy to re-collect yourselves from that and pick yourself up, but we were able to do that today. Notre Dame is always a tough team to play and we always seem to get their best shot. I think we finished on a good note and we are bringing a lot of momentum into the National Indoor’s this weekend.”
The Wildcats dropped the doubles point for the first time all season as the Fighting Irish picked up wins on courts two and three to clinch the point. No. 35 Tom Jomby/Kevin Lai earned a great win over No. 15 Greg Andrews/Spencer Talmadge (ND) 8-6 on court one to win the lone doubles match for Kentucky, as the duo moved to 5-2 on the season together.
In singles,Kentucky got strong performances from the top and bottom of the line-up as the Wildcats took the wins on the top two courts, both in straight sets, and the lower two courts both in straight sets.
After the doubles point, No. 15 Tom Jomby evened the match swiftly at 1-1 as the junior from Nantes, France, picked up a 6-3, 6-2 win over No.110 Blas Moros of Notre Dame. In the match, Jomby never lost serve as he broke Moros four times en route to the win to give the Wildcats the tying point.
Senior Anthony Rossi bolted the Wildcats out to a 2-1 lead in the match as the Marseille, France, native picked up a straight-set win over No. 80 Greg Andrews, 7-5, 6-3. Rossi and Andrews played the first 11 games of the opening set without a service break as the duo battled it out in long, agonizing rallies. Rossi picked up the break of serve at 6-5 in the set and claimed the opening set at 7-5 before getting a pair of breaks in the final set to close out Andrews at 6-3 in the second.
Notre Dame equalized the score at two all when the Irish’s Quinton Monaghan knocked off Alejandro Gomez 6-4, 7-6 (1). Gomez and Monaghan had a fierce battle in the second set that saw Gomez force a tiebreaker after falling down a break early in the set before Monaghan hung on the comfortably win the tiebreaker at 7-1.
UK’s Charles Minc upped his singles record to 5-0 on the year as the Frenchman picked up another straight-sets 6-1, 6-4 win over No. 120 Wyatt McCoy. The win marks the first in the career of Minc over a ranked opponent as he now stands alone as the only Wildcat in singles who is undefeated. Minc went up 3-0 early in the second set before McCoy fought back, earning one break back, but Minc was too strong down the stretch as he served out the 6-3 win to give the Wildcats the 3-2 lead.
Juan Pablo Murra dropped one of the tightest matches of the year out on court four that lasted upwards of two hours to No. 88 Billy Pecor of Notre Dame. Murra was down a set and a break before rallying at 5-5 to earn the break and serve for a final set. In the final set, the two held serve up until 5-5 when Pecor broke Murra to go up 6-5 and had an opportunity to serve for the match. Murra broke Pecor back at 6-5 to force the tie breaker for the match, as Pecor held Murra to just two points to take the match 6-3, 5-7, 6-3, (2).
The decisive match would be on court six for the second time this season, as Lexington, Ky., native Grant Roberts dominated the match 6-3, 6-0 over Ryan Bandy to give the Wildcats the win 4-3 in the match. Roberts picked up a break in the match at 1-0 in the opening set before Bandy broke back to level the set at 2-2. Roberts would hold serve at 3-2 before picking up the break and would cruise the rest of the way to a 6-3 win in the opening stanza. Roberts broke Bandy to start the second set and would serve out the match at 5-0 in the second to give the Wildcats the win. Roberts moves to 3-1 on the season overall and won his second match of the season which was the final deciding match in the contest.
“Grant played his best match of the year today,” UK volunteer assistant coach Rob Silver said. “I think what makes it really impressive is it was coming off a loss. It shows a lot of character out of him to coming out ready to play. We are ready to go out to Seattle and play some of our best tennis against the best teams this weekend.”
In the nightcap, Kentucky cruised to a 6-1 win over EKU.
Anthony Rossi picked up his second win of the day as he flew past EKU’s Daridge Saidi 6-2, 6-0 as Rossi now holds 91 wins to his credit on his career. Alejandro Gomezbounced back from his loss in the Notre Dame match well, earning a 6-1, 6-2 win over Alex Alvaro of the Colonels.
Also collecting singles wins for UK were Kevin Lai, Beck Pennington, Juan Pablo Murra and Ryuji Hirooka. The Wildcats are now 7-0 this season in home matches.
Kentucky will next travel to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s National Indoor Team Championships on Friday afternoon in Seattle, Wash., for three days of competition against the best 16 teams in the nation. Kentucky enters the tournament as the No. 7 seed and will face off against Southeastern Conference foe Mississippi State on Friday at 11:00 a.m. PT in the opening round.