Editor’s Note: Tom Jomby is one of the top rated tennis players in the SEC and is the #1 seed on a very strong Kentucky tennis team. This semester the Frenchman is also a student intern with KSR and will be working with the blog and radio show all Spring. He is doing a journal for us here on the site about his experiences as a college athlete and he will be detailing his season with the UK tennis team. His first post takes us behind the scenes of a UK tennis match, this time against rival Indiana, who Kentucky handled earlier this week in Lexington. We are excited to have Tom as a part of KSR and we hope you will welcome him to the site.
Coming off a successful trip to Durham, North Carolina last weekend, where the University of Kentucky men’s tennis team defeated No. 7 Duke 4-3, the Wildcats beat rival No. 56 Indiana University on Tuesday afternoon with a 6-1 win over the Hoosiers.
The IU team could have been a dangerous opponent for the Cats. This match is as tough as the match against the Blue Devils, said Coach Cedric Kauffmann, but his players were ready to go and started off the right way winning the double point.
On court one, Tom Jomby and Kevin Lai started with two early breaks for an early 5-0 lead and then easily won 6-1.
On court two and playing together for the first time, sophomore Beck Pennington and freshman Jerry Lopez, who just arrived from Mexico last week, had a little bit of a struggle.
As you can see in the picture above, it seems like they were having fun but they couldn’t find their rhythm and lost 6-0. In the tennis world, we call that a “bagel.”
Luckily for the Wildcats, Freshman Nils Ellefsen and Senior Ryuji Hirooka did the job on court 3 clinching the double point and winning their match 6-5 in a close tie breaker ( 7-4 ).
After the clinch, Ellefsen admitted in the locker room that he got tight and nervous during the match but hey, that was his first appearance in doubles for a big match wearing blue and white. Winning the doubles point for the team always helps because you only have to win three of the six singles points. (Ed. note: In college tennis, the best of three doubles matches is worth one total point toward the team’s overall score; each of the six singles matches are also worth one point; best of seven wins.)
In singles action, Alejandro Gomez dominated Dimitrije Tasic 6-2 6-2 in less than an hour.
Tom Jomby, ranked No. 68, played a solid match for the Wildcats and took care of No. 80 Sven Lalic, 6-3, 6-0 in straight sets.
The clinching point came from Beck Pennington, ranked No. 55 in the country, winning a three set battle against Sam Monette 5-6 (2), 6-5 (4), 6-2.
In the remaining matches, Grant Roberts, UK senior from Lexington, won 6-2, 6-2 against Elliott Yee, and Wildcat Ryuji Hirooka defeated Chris Essick 6-2, 6-3.
The crowd was not too bad for a Tuesday afternoon at the Hilary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Center with a good 80 people that showed up.
After the match, Coach Kauffman was proud of his players, and as much as he was expecting a very dangerous IU team, he was happy with the way his players responded to the challenge and thought they played well. He admitted that there is some work that needs to be done in doubles in order to start better and being able to knock off good teams.
This year, the ITA tennis association changed the scoring system to NO AD scoring to try to shorten the matches. They also changed the pre-match protocol, which doesn’t let the players warm up with each other. But Coach Kauffman has a plan for that and he will look at changing the warm-up routine to get his players ready.
Friday afternoon the University of Kentucky’s men’s tennis team will be competing in the annual ITA Kick-Off Weekend. It is the qualifying tournament to the National Indoor. They’re going up against No. 45 BYU while No. 29 Notre Dame will face No. 39 Minnesota.
The winners will play at 5:00 pm Saturday for a spot in the ITA National Indoor Championships in Houston.
The Cats have gone to the National Indoors for the past five years.
If I were you, I would go to watch and cheer the team on Friday at 1:00 pm. UK tennis is much more intense than you think.