Cats Fall to Bulldogs in SEC Tournament

John Morgan Francis

The UK men’s tennis team finally met their match on Friday during the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament when the No. 20 ranked Cats suffered a 2-4 loss to the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

The match was re-scheduled in spite of anticipated thunderstorms. Just a few minutes after the match began, the anticipated weather rolled in and the match was delayed for six and a half hours.

The match began with singles play because the indoor facility where the match moved to after the rain had limited court space.

The Bulldogs took advantage of singles play early with a 1-0 lead. On court three, Nuno Borges defeated UK junior Nils Ellefsen 6-2, 6-1 to put the first point on the board, in favor of Mississippi State.

UK’s No. 29 William Bushamuka didn’t waste any time evening up the score, defeating Mate Cutura of Mississippi State 6-2, 6-4 shortly after on court one.

Even at 1-1, sophomore Trey Yates took the lead for the Cats, taking down Bulldog Niclas Braun 7-6, 6-1.

With a slight lead of 2-1, the worst happened for the UK. Mississippi State’s Rishab Agarwal evened the score at 2-2 with a major upset over No. 39 Ryotaro Matsumura of UK. Agarwal posted a win with a deciding score of 6-2, 6-4.

On courts 5 & 6, it was up to Thursday’s hero and freshman Austin Hussey, as well as Jake Stefanik, to pull out a win for the Cats.

With the 5th court finishing first, the Bulldogs’ Strahinja Rakic prevailed over Hussey with a hard fought 3-set win. The sets were scored 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 in favor of Rakic and giving Mississippi State a 3-2-match lead. 

Though he lost the first set 6-4, Jake Stefanik didn’t go down without a fight for the Cats. Stefanik won the second set over Trevor Foshey 6-1 to leave the third set up for grabs. Unfortunately for Stefanik and UK, it didn’t go his way, as the match was lost to the Bulldogs, 7-5. Trevor Foshey of Mississippi State clinched the win for his team and the Bulldogs will move on to the semifinals.

With the loss on Friday, the Cats will look to enter the NCAA regionals with a 19-9 record. The selection show, featuring the tournament seeding, is scheduled for May 3, at 5:30 p.m.