Tennessee rallies to beat Kentucky
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Capped off by a late rally from sophomore Srdjan Jakovljevic, the Tennessee men's tennis team defeated Kentucky, 4-2, in the second round of the SEC Tournament at Barksdale Stadium.
UT (13-13) fought back after dropping Court 2 doubles to claim a 1-0 lead over the eighth-seeded Wildcats. UK gained an early edge in singles, taking four of the six first sets, but a late push sealed the deal for the Vols. Singles wins from sophomore Timo Stodder and freshman Scott Jones paved the way for Jakovljevic to seal the victory.
"We've seen this all season," Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham said. "We've had so many close 4-3, 4-2 matches. I feel like the guys are just a little more confident. They've been tough all year. Sometimes the breaks have to go your way. We won an incredibly tight doubles point that could have gone either way. In singles, Timo was stepping up and beating their No. 1 guy, who's an incredibly good player. We had guys lose first sets and come back to take the second."
Now on a four-match winning streak, the Vols face top-seeded Texas A&M in the quarterfinals at 3 p.m. Admission is free and parking is available in lot C-11.
After each match started even at 3-3 in doubles, Will Bushamuka and Nils Ellefsen took the first match over Jack Schipanski and Scott Jones, 6-3. Tennessee quickly responded, though, as Jakovljevic hit an ace to earn a 6-4 win alongside Sunay Bhat on Court 3 over Gus Benson and Trey Yates.
Coming down to a tight match on Court 1, the No. 52 team of Luis Valero and Timo Stodder outlasted 28th-ranked Enzo Wallart and Beck Pennington in a 7-6 (4) contest to give the UT an early lead.
In singles, Stodder got the Vols going with 6-3, 6-1 victory over Will Bushamuka, the 16th-ranked player in the country. Kentucky picked up a win on Court 5 to get on the board, behind Enzo Wallart's 6-4, 6-2 win over Schipanski.
Despite losing the first set, Jones rallied to upset 116th-ranked Trey Yates, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, on Court 4 and give Tennessee a 3-1 lead. UK wouldn't give up, though, as Valero dropped his match on Court 2 to make it 3-2.
The Volunteers faced deficits on both Courts 3 and 6 as the match began to conclude. Down 5-3 in the third set tiebreaker, Jakovljevic rallied to take down Nils Ellefsen, 3-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5), and clinch the match for Tennessee, 4-2.
It was a result reversal from the regular season when Ellefsen won in straight sets in Kentucky's 4-0 win.
"Srdjan clinching there was incredible," Winterbotham said. "Nils played great against him in Lexington. We knew it was going to be a tough match. It's a tough matchup for Srdjan. Mentally staying as strong as he did was super to see."
No. 47 Tennessee 4, No. 27 Kentucky 2
Singles 1. #32 Timo Stodder (UT) def. #16 Will Bushamuka (UK), 6-3, 6-1 2. Beck Pennington (UK) def. Luis Valero (UT), 6-0, 4-6, 6-4 3. Srdjan Jakovljevic (UT) def. Nils Ellefsen (UK), 3-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) 4. Scott Jones (UT) def. #116 Trey Yates (UK), 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 5. Enzo Wallart (UK) def. Jack Schipanski (UT), 6-4, 6-2 6. Luca Wiedenmann (UT) vs. Alex Dominguez (UK), 7-6 (6), 4-6, 4-5 unf.
Doubles 1. #52 Valero/Stodder (UT) def. #28 Wallart/Pennington (UK), 7-6 (4) 2. Bushamuka/Ellefsen (UK) def. Schipanski/Jones (UT), 6-3 3. Jakovljevic/Bhat (UT) def. Benson/Yates (UK), 6-4
Order of Finish: Doubles (2, 3, 1); Singles (1, 5, 4, 2, 3)