Feb 9, 2013 10:53 PM
The seventh-ranked University of Kentucky men's tennis team lost its first match of the 2013 season at No. 19 Illinois as the Fighting Illini picked up singles wins on courts two, three, four and six to cap off the 4-3 victory.
"This is a tough loss for us," UK head coach Cedric Kauffmann said. "I really respect what Illinois did tonight and they did a really good job of closing out thematch. We gave a really good effort tonight, and a bit too much of that was in the first hour of play."
The Wildcats started off strong, as for the seventh time in seven tries, UK claimed the doubles point with the point-clinching win coming on court three from Grant Roberts and Anthony Rossi. Kentucky also got a win on court two from RyuijiHirooka and Alejandro Gomez 8-4. Roberts and Rossi were down 7-5 in the match and won the next two games to force the tiebreaker in which they took to give the Wildcats the doubles point.
Kentucky's Charles Minc continued to be steady at the No. 5 position, gaining a straight-sets win at 6-3, 6-3 to square the match at 2-2 after the Illini had picked up wins on courts four and two to take the 2-1 lead in the match overall.
Illinois re-claimed the lead seconds later as Grant Roberts lost his first match of the season on court six in straight sets to the Illini's Farris Gosea 7-6, 6-2. Roberts held a 5-3 lead in the first set before Gosea won three of the final four games of the set to force, and ultimately win the tiebreaker.
UK responded yet again to tie the match at 3-3 when No. 94 Anthony Rossi bounced back on court one from his first defeat of the 2013 season a week ago to a straight-sets 6-4, 6-4 win. Rossi improved to 6-1 on the season individually.
The final match was on court three, and was the only match out of all six singles matches to go the distance. The Illini's Tim Kopinski took the first set from No. 97 Alejandro Gomez 6-1 before Gomez responded with a 6-4 win in the second set to force a decisive final frame. In the final frame, Gomez started the set with a hold of serve before Kopinski took a 3-2 lead in the set and got thebreak of serve which he would not relinquish as Gomez fell 6-3 in the finalset, giving the Illini the 4-3 win in the match.
"This bus ride is going to be hard for the players and coaches, but this is the type of match that is going to help make us a better team down the line and make our skin a little bit tougher. We will get back to work on Monday, and move forward as a team." Kauffmann said
The loss for Kentucky is its first in the 2013 season, as the Wildcats fall to 6-1 on the season. The match on Saturday night marked UK's sixth-consecutive match against a top-50 opponent, as the streak will continue into for their seventh straight-match next week.
Kentucky will return home to the Hilary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Center in Lexington,Ky., on Tuesday afternoon and evening for a doubleheader. The opening match of the day will see UK take on No. 29 Notre Dame at 1:00 p.m. ET and the nightcap will feature UK facing off against Eastern Kentucky with first serve in that match scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET.