Kentucky men’s tennis dominates opening day doubleheader


men’s tennis

Hailey Peters

Opening their spring season with a home doubleheader on Sunday, January 13th, the Kentucky men’s tennis team cruised to victory on the courts and proved themselves a force to be reckoned with in the 2019 season. The Cats earned two straight 7-0 sweeps in the doubleheader, the first against the IUPUI Jaguars and the second against the NKU Norse.

“What we’re trying to do is set up our games,” head coach Cedric Kauffmann said. “Winning always kind of carries over momentum…our confidence goes up a little with each win.” 

The first match of the day was a competitive match against the Jaguars. With individual players and doubles teams on both sides making hard plays with endless rallies and resilience, the doubleheader started off with a big win for Kentucky.

The match against IUPUI began with all three doubles teams defeating their opponents. Number three seeded doubles team Kevin Huempfner and Kento Yamada swept their set, while number one seeded doubles team Cesar Bourgois and Enzo Wallart managed to come back from a set deficit to win their first set 6-3. 

In the singles round, Kentucky had to make quick adjustments after their second seeded player, Wallart, was removed from the singles lineup, so all but the first-seeded player, Ryo Matsumura, had to play up a class from where they were placed on their own team.

However, the Wildcats did not let that impede their success against IUPUI, and they officially won the match after winning their first three singles matches, with Theo McDonald, Matsumura, and Yamada claiming victories after only two sets played each. Bourgois, Huempfner, and stand-in player Fabian Penzkofer also won their singles matches with only two sets played. The doubles victory combined with all six singles wins gave the Cats the sweep.

The second match of the day was played against Northern Kentucky. NKU proved to have a much different playing style than IUPUI, going for quicker, heavier plays over long, persistent rallies. Nevertheless, the Cats met their challengers with enough skill to close out the doubleheader with twin sweeps.

Changing up the lineups both in doubles pairings and seed rankings for singles matches, the Cats exhibited their ability to adapt to new settings and still come out on top. Yamada, now paired with Arthur Chen, was the first of the three doubles teams to emerge victoriously. A new match between Penzkofer and Matsumura along with the same Bourgois/Wallart team shared the same fate as their teammates, holding NKU doubles teams to only five games across all sets being won in the three separate matches.

Every singles match was also victoriously claimed by Kentucky. Although Bourgois struggled with close back-and-forth in his single against IUPUI, he was the first player to bring a singles point to UK against NKU. Followed shortly by Yamada and McDonald, the Wildcats clinched the second game of the day to begin their 2019 season 2-0. Penzkofer and Huempfner followed their teammates in winning their own matches in two sets to give the Cats the second sweep of the doubleheader.

“We’re not set with doubles yet, so we’re still trying new things,” said Kauffmann about the team moving forward. “The focus today was very good… I thought we took care of business and overall I’m very pleased.”

The Kentucky men’s tennis team agrees that they are ready for their big matches next weekend, and will return to their home courts on Saturday, Jan. 19 at 1 p.m., when they are set to face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.