UK men’s tennis’ comeback falls short


Senior Beck Pennington competes in singles against Alabama on Sunday April 9, 2017. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Chris Leach

The No. 23 UK men’s tennis team played in their final home match of the season on Sunday afternoon, meaning the two seniors on the roster, Beck Pennington and Nils Ellefsen, played at the Boone Tennis Center for the final time in their college careers.

It was one of the more exciting matches of the season, but the Cats were not able to send their seniors off with a win as they were defeated by Alabama 4-3. UK got off to a rough start, but made things interesting in the end with a comeback bid that came up just short.

The Cats fell behind early as they were swept 3-0 in the doubles matches to give Alabama the doubles point. Ellefsen and his partner, William Bushamuka, were the closest to getting a win, but they fell to opponents 7-6.

In the singles portion of the match, the Cats fell behind another two points after Bushamuka, and Ryotaro Matsumura were both upset in their singles match.

Sophomore Enzo Wallart would get the Cats on the board first with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Ritchie Kruunenberg in match No. 6.  This was Wallart’s third singles win in-a-row.

Wallart’s win started the Cats’ comeback, but there was still plenty of work to be done as the Crimson Tide only needed to win just one of the final four singles matches to clinch the team victory. It was at this point when the seniors decided they were not going down without a fight.

Ellefsen would give the Cats more momentum after he won his singles match in three sets. Pennington followed that up with a win in his singles match, giving the Cats another point and tying the team score 3-3. It also took Pennington three sets to defeat Alexey Nesterov.

With the score tied 3-3 and only one singles match remaining, the final singles match between Trey Yates of UK, and Zhe Zhou of Alabama would decide which team would walk away with the win.

Yates’ and Zhou’s match would be another close one, requiring three sets. Yates kept it close, as Zhou only held a 4-3 lead midway through, but Zhou would score the next two points to win the match over Yates.

The Cats certainly will be disappointed they could not win on senior day, but without the singles wins of Ellefsen and Pennington, the comeback UK almost completed would not have been possible.

The next match for the men’s team will be April 14 against Arkansas.