UK men’s tennis upset by Alabama at SEC Tournament


Enzo Wallart celebrates with Ryotaro Matsumura during the match against the Arkansas Razorbacks on Friday, March 4, 2016 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won the match 5-2. Photo by Hunter Mitchell | Staff

Braden Ramsey

The No. 25 Kentucky men’s tennis team fell to the No. 50 Alabama Crimson Tide 4-1 in the second round of the SEC Men’s Tennis Tournament Thursday afternoon. 

The loss marks the third straight for the Cats as they now await an inyvite to the NCAA Tournament. 

The Crimson Tide came out of the gate strong, claiming victory in doubles. Zhe Zhou and Patrick Kaukovalta defeated Trey Yates and Ryotaro Matsumura 7-5 to claim the first set for the Crimson Tide. 

A 7-6 (7-4) set win by UK’s No. 18 nationally-ranked duo of Gus Benson and Cesar Bourgois over the No. 30 ranked Mazen Osama and Edson Ortiz made it one set apiece. Thibault Cancel and Alexey Nesterov beating Will Bushamuka and Austin Hussey 7-6 (8-6) sealed the first point for Alabama. 

Zhou quickly dispatched of Hussey 6-3, 6-3 to open singles play and put the Tide up 2-0. A highly touted matchup between two of the top players in the country – No. 8 Matsumura from Kentucky and No. 18 Osama from Alabama ended in a 7-5, 6-4 victory for the underdog, giving the Crimson Tide a 3-0 lead. 

The No. 5 seed in tournament Kentucky salvaged a point on the back of Bushamuka, who is ranked 49th in the country. He defeated Kaukovalta in three sets, 6-3, 2-6, 6-3. Nesterov capped off the day with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Kento Yamada, propelling Alabama into the quarterfinals. 

Two matches ended unfinished due to the Crimson Tide’s domination. Cancel led Kentucky’s Enzo Wallert 7-6 (7-2), 3-1 and Ortiz led Yates 7-6, (7-3), 5-5 when the round was ended, further demonstrating the complete control Alabama had throughout the day. 

Kentucky defeated Alabama 4-0 when the two battled earlier in the season, making the 4-1 loss somewhat of a shock. The Cats haven’t won since Senior Day, when they captured a 4-1 victory over Vanderbilt, who finished sixth in the SEC. 

The Cats are looking to make their fifth NCAA tournament appearance in the past six seasons. The men’s bracket will be announced live on on May 1st at 5:30 p.m.