March 23, 2014
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- After a hard-fought loss in Nashville to in-state rival Vanderbilt, the No. 15 Tennessee tennis team returned to Barksdale Stadium against another rival, No. 14 Kentucky.
The cold start to the SEC season continued for the Volunteers (13-9, 2-5 SEC), as the Wildcats (13-5, 6-1 SEC) came into Knoxville and defeated UT, 4-1, Sunday afternoon.
The Wildcats jumped out to a 1-0 lead after securing the doubles point by taking matches on courts two and three. The pair of Alejandro Gomez and Beck Pennington pulled away from Brandon Fickey and Jarryd Chaplin, 8-4.
UT held firm on the other two courts in back-and-forth affairs without many breaks on either side. On court three, No. 73 Ryuji Hirooka and Nils Ellefsen forced a tiebreaker against Markus Kerner and Andrew Dromsky with the score tied at 7. Once the tiebreaker started, UK quickly pulled away, securing the doubles point with a 7-2 tiebreak.
After the intermission, Kentucky continued its strong play by winning four of the six first sets. UK utilized two straight-set victories to quickly go ahead 3-0. After being tied 3-3 on court three with Fickey, No. 67 Pennington won 9 of his final 11 games to win 6-3, 6-2. That result was almost instantly followed by Lexington, Ky., native Grant Roberts's 6-1, 6-1 victory over Dromsky on court six.
The lone highlight and point for the Vols came on the number one court, where No. 22 Hunter Reese picked up his fifth win of the season at the top position. The redshirt junior defeated No. 10 Tom Jomby, 6-4, 6-3, to put the Big Orange on the scoreboard.
Reese's doubles teammate did not fare in a similar manner. No. 34 Mikelis Libietis, whose doubles match with Reese failed to finish due to the other two courts finishing, dropped a tough 6-4, 6-4 matchup to Gomez.
The Vols have now dropped three of their last four matches and will go back on the road Sunday when they face the No. 12 Aggies of Texas A&M in yet another top-20 showdown in the SEC. The match will start at 2 p.m. Knoxville time.
Kentucky 4, Tennessee 1
1. #22 Hunter Reese (UT) def. #10 Tom Jomby (UK) 6-4, 6-3
2. Alejandro Gomez (UK) def. #34 Mikelis Libietis (UT) 6-4, 6-4
3. #67 Beck Pennington (UK) def. Brandon Fickey (UT) 6-3, 6-2
4. Jarryd Chaplin (UT) vs. Jerry Lopez (UK) 6-3, 2-5, unfinished
5. Markus Kerner (UT) vs. Kevin Lai (UK) 1-6, 6-2, 1-1, unfinished
6. Grant Roberts (UK) def. Andrew Dromsky (UT) 6-1, 6-1
1. #2 Mikelis Libietis/Hunter Reese (UT) vs. #26 Tom Jomby/Kevin Lai (UK) 7-7 (1-2), unfinished
2. Alejandro Gomez/Beck Pennington (UK) def. Jarryd Chaplin/Brandon Fickey (UT) 8-4
3. #73 Ryuji Hirooka/Nils Ellefsen (UK) def. Andrew Dromsky/Markus Kerner (UT) 8-7 (7-2)
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3); Singles (3,6,1,2)