UK snaps 4-match losing streak with close win over Auburn

In search of its first win since Feb. 29, the UK men’s tennis team squared off yesterday against Auburn at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex.

Snapping a four-match losing streak wasn’t easy, but the No. 63 Cats (7-9, 2-4 Southeastern Conference) managed to edge the No. 22 Tigers (9-7, 3-3 SEC) 4-3 yesterday for the much-needed victory. UK clinched the double point by winning two out of three matches, and freshman Alberto Gonzalez secured the final singles point for UK’s triumph.

It was a balancing act from the start in doubles on all three courts. On court 2, freshman Will Beck and junior Shane Collins used numerous quick volleys at the net for points and kept their momentum until the score was 6-4. Just when it looked like UK would win on both courts 2 and 3, Auburn amped up its game.

The Tigers got one game on court 3 before UK won 8-3 on senior Marcus Sundh’s put-away. But Auburn went on to win four straight games on court 2 for an 8-6 win, leaving the doubles point up to junior Bruno Agostinelli and freshman partner Brad Cox on court 1.

Both teams split the first two games with game-winning aces. The speedy, highly contested match remained close throughout, with Auburn’s Terence Nugent and Alexey Tsyrenov taking the lead 7-6 at one point.

UK tied the match at 8-8 before ultimately winning the match on a powerful return down the left baseline for a 9-8 (7-3 tiebreak) win. The victory clinched UK’s first doubles point since its opening SEC matchup against South Carolina.

“I thought we played great in doubles,” head coach Dennis Emery said. “We knew going in that Auburn, when they win the doubles point, almost always wins the match like 90 percent of the time, so that was a big thing for us.”

After splitting the first four singles matches, it was up to either Collins or Gonzalez for the match-clinching fourth point.

While Collins was behind in the No. 6 slot, Gonzalez took control of the first set, winning 6-1. He then went on to lose the second set 6-1 but came back to clinch UK’s overall victory by winning 6-2.

“The first set was really easy; I played well,” Gonzalez said. “In the second set, my racket got broken and I lost focus, and then I just told myself we really need this one, you know, so I just tried extremely hard, and thank God everything went through. We really needed it, and I am really happy for all of my team.”