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The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

Vandy, Ole Miss, UGA, Bama move on in SEC Tournament

423 days ago
SEC Staff
Photo: Michael Wade

#6 Vanderbilt 4, #11 LSU 0

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. --The sixth-seeded Vanderbilt men's tennis team opened up Southeastern Conference Tournament play Thursday morning with a bang, downing the 11th-seeded LSU Tigers with a 4-0 sweep.

With the victory, the 19th-ranked Commodores advance to SEC quarterfinals and take on third-seeded Florida on Friday at noon.

"I've been talking to our team ahead of time to give what I have to say some time to percolate," said head coach Ian Duvenhage, "and I asked the team on Sunday `what are we going to SECs for?' You know, are we going to win a round or two and come home or to win the tournament? I reminded them that they're the same team that was a point away from beating No. 1 Wake Forest and in a close match against Florida the last time we played them...

"So I think the team is fired up. We've been talking about importance of getting locked in for a match psychologically. My sense is that they're excited to play Florida and that it will be a pretty good match."

Two student-athletes made their SEC Tournament debuts against LSU, with both freshmen earning wins. Vanderbilt opened Thursday's match taking the one-point advantage with two doubles victories on courts three then one.

Freshman George Harwell and senior Baker Newman were first off the court, garnering a swift 6-1 victory on court three over the Tigers' Shane Monroe and Stewart Block. The victory broke a three-match skid for Harwell, whose previous doubles win was a 6-2 victory over Monroe/Block during the regular season. Tied 3-all on court one, No. 12 Cameron Klinger and Billy Rowe took three games in a row over LSU's Rafael Wagner and Agie Moreno to clinch the doubles point with a 6-3 victory. Lachlan McPhee and Maxwell Freeman were down a game, 4-5, at the clinch.

The Commodores continued to play confident tennis heading into singles as the squad took five-of-six first sets. All three of VU's remaining points came in straight-set victories. Freeman earned the Dores the 2-0 lead in his tourney debut. The Ashland, Mass. native cruised through his match against Moreno on court five. Freeman only allowed his opponent one game per set, walking away with a 6-1, 6-1 win.

No. 122 Newman extended the Vandy advantage, earning a 6-0, 6-4 victory over LSU's Nikola Samardzic on court three. Ranked 28th in the country, senior Daniel Valent tied the Vanderbilt all-time career singles record set by AJ Austin with 107 career victories. Taking court one against LSU's No. 72 Monroe, Valent's career victory came in a straight-set win on court one, 6-0, 6-4.

"Danny deserves this accomplishment," Duvenhage stated. "It's a monumental accomplishment because we've had some really good players at Vanderbilt. I'm happy for him... Danny works so hard, and he's earned it. He did a good job today to tie the record, he played a great first set and closed it out when the second set got tough."

Taking the final two points in 6-4 second sets proved key to the Dores, as the remaining three courts were in tight battles. Valent will look to cement his place in VU history atop the record books on Friday versus Florida.

"It's kind of a full circle moment," said Valent. "From the first day I met AJ my freshmen year, I had great respect for him. Not only was he an amazing athlete and competitor, but he was also a great human being. It feels good and gives me confidence to have matched one of his accomplishments and to represent Vanderbilt."

#10 Ole Miss 4, #7 South Carolina 1

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Ole Miss men's tennis has battled adversity all season and came into the SEC Tournament likely needing a win to secure their 25th consecutive NCAA Tournament bid. Behind the doubles point and strong singles play, the Rebels topped seven seeded South Carolina 4-1 Thursday at the Alabama Tennis Stadium. The Rebels advanced to the quarterfinals to face No. 2 seed Mississippi State Friday at 12 p.m.

Mother nature forced the other Noon match to be moved up to 10 a.m. and indoors, but the rain stopped, the sun finally came out and they dried the courts for the Rebels and Gamecocks to begin play at 1 p.m.

The Rebels came out firing in doubles and cruised to a 6-2 win on court one with Tim Sandkaulen and Grey Hamilton, and then Fabian Fallert and Finn Reynolds finished off a 6-1 win on court three to hand the Gamecocks their first doubles point loss in five matches. Interestingly, the last time the Gamecocks lost the point before Thursday, was the regular season meeting with the Rebels a month ago.

Ole Miss carried the momentum over to singles, taking four first sets to South Carolina's two. Junior Filip Kraljevicknocked off No. 36 ranked Gabriel Friedrich 6-3, 6-3 on court two, while South Carolina won in straight sets on court six as the Rebels led 2-1. Hamilton saved set point to force a first set tiebreaker and won it on his way to a 7-6(4), 6-4 victory against Gamecock Harrison O'Keefe on court four to put the Rebels within one, 3-1.

The final three matches went three sets. Sandkaulen was one of two Rebels who dropped his first set - a close one at that - but he rallied for a 5-7, 6-1, 6-3 win against Gamecock Paul Jubb at No. 1 singles, to clinch the win.

When play was stopped, Fallert was tied 3-3 in the third on court three and Reynolds led 3-0 in the third on court five.

#8 Georgia 4, #9 Arkansas 2

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Following a win in doubles and four first-set singles victories, the No. 8 seed Georgia men's tennis team staved off a furious Arkansas rally in a 4-2 win Thursday evening in the first round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

It was junior Emil Reinberg who delivered the late-match heroics in a 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (5) triumph against Arkansas' Adam Sanjurjo to send the Bulldogs (13-9 overall) to a date with No. 1 seed Texas A&M Friday at 4 p.m. CT.

"We played a great doubles point and looked like we were in control in many ways at the start of singles," head coach Manuel Diaz said. "I can't say enough about Arkansas. They really were a physical team. We were not able to maintain our momentum on a lot of courts, but I am so proud of the guys and the way they fought. It just took a lot of guts for us to really fight the way we did and be able to pull that out."

Georgia came ready to play from the start. The Bulldogs looked strong at each doubles court, jumping out to sizable leads at all positions. Alex Diaz and Reinberg were the first to finish in a 6-4 win, before Walker Duncan and Wayne Montgomery took a 6-3 victory. Duncan won his match in his first action back since March 18. The Bulldog junior had been sitting out due to injury.

Up 1-0 after doubles, Georgia's singles lineup featured Montgomery at the top position, followed by Jan Zielinski at No. 2, Reinberg at No. 3, Nathan Ponwith at No. 4, Robert Loeb at No. 5 and Diaz at No. 6.

The Bulldogs began singles much like they did in doubles with first-set wins at four of the six courts. Ponwith then put the Bulldogs up 2-0 and won his fifth match in the last six contests with a decisive 6-1, 6-2 win over Josh Howard from Arkansas.

Ponwith's victory put the Bulldogs seemingly in control of the match, but the Razorbacks fought back to win the first set at one and second sets at two and six, before getting on the board with Alex Reco's 6-4, 6-3 win against Loeb at the No. 5 spot.

Diaz stretched Georgia's lead to 3-1 with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 triumph at the sixth court, but Montgomery suffered a loss in two tiebreakers, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (9). That put the match in the hands of Zielinski and Reinberg, who were locked in tight third-set battles.

With Zielinski down 6-5, Reinberg delivered with a 7-5 win in his tiebreaker to put the final score at 4-2 in the Bulldogs' favor.

Singles competition 

1. #21 Jose Salazar (AR) def. #33 Wayne Montgomery (UGA) 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (11-9)

2. #39 Jan Zielinski (UGA) vs. Oscar Mesquida (AR) 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 5-6, unfinished

3. #64 Emil Reinberg (UGA) def. Adam Sanjurjo (AR) 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5)

4. #93 Nathan Ponwith (UGA) def. Josh Howard-Tripp (AR) 6-1, 6-2

5. Alex Reco (AR) def. Robert Loeb (UGA) 6-4, 6-3

6. Alex Diaz (UGA) def. Pedro Alonso (AR) 6-4, 4-6, 6-3

Doubles competition

1. #33 Robert Loeb/Jan Zielinski (UGA) vs. #47 Oscar Mesquida/Adam Sanjurjo (AR) 5-4, unfinished

2. Emil Reinberg/Alex Diaz (UGA) def. Alex Reco/Josh Howard-Tripp (AR) 6-4

3. #52 Wayne Montgomery/Walker Duncan (UGA) def. Jose Alonso/Pedro Alonso (AR) 6-3

Match Notes:

Arkansas 13-14; National ranking #47

Georgia 13-9; National ranking #18

#12 Alabama 4, #5 Kentucky 1

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama men's tennis team upset No. 25 Kentucky, 4-1, on Thursday night at the Alabama Tennis Stadium in the second round of the 2018 SEC Men's Tennis Tournament.

"We had grit and tenacity tonight," head coach George Husack said. "We were relentless. We certainly had opportunities and you can look at doubles, we had match points and didn't convert them, we saved a couple match points, every score was close so that 1-0 lead was huge."

With the crucial win, the No. 12-seed Crimson Tide (18-11) will advance to play the No. 4-seed and 19th-ranked Tennessee Volunteers tomorrow at 4 p.m. CT at the Alabama Tennis Stadium.

The victory marked the first time the Tide has advanced to the quarterfinals in the SEC Tournament since 2013. UA now has 18 wins on the season which is the most wins for the program since 2009.

The Tide started the day by winning a thrilling doubles point. After freshman Patrick Kaukovalta and sophomore Zhe Zhou edged Yates/Matsumura, 7-5, and No. 18 Benson/Bourgois pushed past No. 30 junior Mazen Osama and sophomore Edson Ortiz, 7-6 (4), it came down to the No. 2 spot.

The sophomore tandem of Thibault Cancel and Alexey Nesterov fell behind 5-2 in the tiebreaker against Bushamuka/Hussey, before battling back to tie the break at 6-6. Cancel/Nesterov closed it out with a thrilling final two points to earn the much-needed doubles point.

In singles competition, Zhou ran past Austin Hussey, 6-3, 6-3, to double the Tide lead to 2-0. Later on in the match, No. 18 Osama picked up his eighth win over a nationally-ranked opponent when he bested No. 8 Ryotaro Matsumura, 7-5, 6-4, to push the lead to 3-0. Osama's win over the eighth-ranked Matsumura tied a career-high for the highest ranked opponent that the Cairo, Egypt native, has defeated as he bested No. 8 Nuno Borges of Mississippi State last season.

Moments after Kaukovalta fell to No. 49 William Bushamuka, 6-3, 2-6, 6-3, Nesterov closed out the match. The Moscow, Russia native, disposed of Kento Yamada at the No. 5 spot 7-5, 6-3, to send the Tide to the quarterfinals.

Alabama Results:

Singles vs. Kentucky:

1. No. 18 Mazen Osama def. No. 8 Ryotaro Matsumura, 7-5, 6-4

2. No. 49 William Bushamuka def. Patrick Kaukovalta, 6-3, 2-6, 6-3

3. Thibault Cancel vs. Enzo Wallart, 7-6 (7-2), 3-1, unf.

4. Edson Ortiz vs. Trey Yates, 7-6, 7-3, 5-5, unf.

5. Alexey Nesterov def. Kento Yamada, 7-5, 6-3

6. Zhe Zhou def. Austin Hussey, 6-3, 6-3

Order of Finish: 6, 1, 2, 5

Doubles vs. Kentucky:

1. No. 18 Benson/Bourgois def. No. 30 Osama/Ortiz, 7-6 (4)

2. Cancel/Nesterov def. Bushamaka/Hussey, 7-6 (8-6)

3. Zhou/Kaukovalta def. Yates/Matsumura, 7-5

Order of Finish: 3, 1, 2