GAINESVILLE, Fla. – No. 36 Vanderbilt men’s tennis earned the upset over No. 33 Kentucky, 4-3 on Thursday at the Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex to secure its spot in the quarterfinals of the SEC Championship.
“When you play a good team, there are going to be a lot of ups and downs. We talk a lot as a team about riding out these down times in matches to get over the hump and find a way to win and that’s what we did today,” said head coach Ian Duvenhage.
Looking for a shot at advancing to the quarterfinals, the Commodores took the court ready to attack in doubles.
Earning a fiery start for the Dores, freshman Macsen Sisam and junior Panu Virtanen topped Kentucky pair Ryo Matsumura and Kevin Huempfner, 6-2.
Kentucky’s Enzo Wallart and Ying-Ze Chen stepped up for the Wildcats to defeat Commodore pair Max Freeman and George Harwell putting the doubles point on the line for Court 1.
On Court 1, No. 14 Billy Rowe and Cam Klinger battled against Wildcat pair Cesar Bourgois and Kento Yamada. With the match coming down to a tiebreaker, the duo clinched the doubles point for the Commodores, 7-6 (8).
Kentucky earned a strong start in singles, collecting five out of the six first sets to take an early lead over the Dores.
Putting Kentucky on the board, No. 87 Enzo Wallart defeated No. 78 Klinger in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2 to tie the match.
Kentucky maintained momentum across the courts collecting another victory over Harwell on Court 2 to take a 2-1 lead over the Dores.
Retying the match, Rowe dominated the court taking on Kentucky’s Yamada, securing a 6-3, 6-1 win over the Wildcat to tie the match 2-2.
Fighting back, Kentucky’s Bourgois once again put Kentucky in the lead, 3-2 with a win over Sisam, 7-5, 7-6 (3).
After dropping the first set to Kentucky’s Huempfner, 2-6, Freeman bounced back in the second set, 6-4 to force the match into a third set.
In the third set, the sophomore held Huempfner to only 3 games to pick up the win for the Dores.
With the match point coming down to Virtanen on Court 6, the junior came back from a 5-7 loss in the first set to take down Kentucky’s Aggarwal, 7-5 in the second set. In the final set of the match, Virtanen cliched the match for the Dores, 4-3, taking down Aggarwal, 6-2.
“Panu did a great job of taking control. He played a tough match and stayed aggressive to take away the win from Aggarwal,” said Duvenhage.
After earning the upset over seventh-seeded Kentucky, the Commodores are set to take on second-seeded Mississippi State Friday at 7 a.m. CT at the Alfred A. Ring Tennis Complex.
“Today was a really good win for us, we needed that. I told the team before the match that I have no doubt we can beat them, we did not play them well at home and today we came out and played strong tennis and redeemed ourselves,” said Duvenhage.
Keep up with the Dores as they compete in the quarterfinals of the SEC Championship by following @VandyMTennis on Twitter and Instagram.