Men’s Tennis wins nail-biter against Tennessee in SEC Tournament

John Morgan Francis

The UK Men’s Tennis team pulled off a late comeback in the first round of the SEC Tournament to defeat the Tennessee Volunteers 4-3. Superb play of both Trey Yates and Austin Hussey allowed the Cats to avoid the upset.

The Cats had been hot in past doubles play, but cooled off on Thursday in Columbia. UK’s William Bushamuka and Yates were the first duo to be defeated in doubles play as they lost to the hands of Volunteers’ Igor Smelyanski and Jack Heslin, 6-3.

UK didn’t back down, however, as Cats Enzo Wallart and Nils Ellefsen shocked No. 23 Jack Schipanski/Luis Valero with a 6-4 victory to tie doubles at 1-1. Timo Stodder and Srdjan Jakovljevic of Tennessee then bested the Cats on Court 3 to take the doubles point. The Volunteer pairing defeated Gus Benson and Ryotaro Matsumura 7-6 (2).

Facing early adversity, the Cats had to play their best to come out with a win. UK’s No. 29 Bushamuka did not play around, finishing first to route Volunteer and No. 67 Valero 6-2, 6-1. By evening the score at 1-1, Bushamuka inspired teammate Jake Stefanik to score the next point and take the overall lead. On court six, Stefanik cruised past Heslin 6-3, 6-2.

Tennessee refused to go away, evening the match back at 2-2 after a Volunteer victory on court 3. Tennessee’s Stodder defeated Ellefsen in two sets: 6-2, 6-4.

UK then faced its worst deficit of the afternoon as Tennessee took a commanding 3-2 lead on 2nd court. Smelyanski (UT) pulled off a shocking upset over No. 39 Matsumura in consecutive sets of 6-4.

Down 2-3, UK was forced to put their faith in two of their youngest players: sophomore Trey Yates and freshman Austin Hussey.

Going into extra sets on court four was Yates and Jakovljevic. With Yates dropping the first set 4-6, he bounced back with a dominating 6-2 win in the second set to force a tiebreaker and possibly extend the match. Keeping UK’s hopes alive, Yates rallied to claim victory over Jakovljevic in extras, 6-4.

All tied up at 3-3, the winner of court five would grant their team passage to the next round. UK’s faith was put in Hussey, while Tennessee looked to Schipanski.

In the first set, the Cats and Hussey faced adversity yet again, losing to Schipanski and the Volunteers 5-7. Hussey refused to back down in set two and bounced back with a momentum-building 6-3 victory. Securing their trip to the next round was Hussey as he took down Schipanski of Tennessee in the third and deciding set, 6-3.

The Cats will look to ride their momentum into Friday’s match against the No. 4-seed Mississippi State Bulldogs. The match is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.