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    SEC Men's Tennis Tournament: Day Two

    Pennington Clinches SEC Quarterfinals Berth for Kentucky at 2:22 am CT
    OXFORD,Miss. – After more than a six-hour match, and a spot in the Southeastern Conference quarterfinals on the line, the eighth-seeded University of Kentucky men’s tennis team outlasted No. 9 Mississippi State, 4-2 at the Gillom Sports Center on the campus of Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss.
    Freshman, and Bowling Green, Ky., native, Beck Pennington clinched the match on courtfive with a 7-6 (7), 6-0 win after more than 360 minutes of tennis action. Pennington and Mississippi State’s Zach White exchanged service holds for the opening 12 games of the match before an epic tiebreak decided the winner. Pennington had two set points at 6-4, and White fought back to make it 7-7.Pennington re-gained the mini break at 8-7, and served out the 9-7 win to take the opening set.
    After an opening-game break to go up 1-0, Pennington easily broke again at 3-0, and 5-0 to earn himself three chances to serve out the match. The freshman calmly battled back from down 15-40 to earn deuce and then won the final two points of the match to clinch the match.
    “Obviously, this is a very big win for the boys today,” UK head coach Cedric Kauffmann. “I thought we battled and competed so tough, and that is a big part of our success. We kind of found a spark at doubles with (Anthony) Rossi and (JuanPablo) Murra, which I thought was big. Anytime you have players like Rossi and (Tom) Jomby, you have a chance to win any match you play. Having said that,there are still players we need to step up if we are going to win this championship. It’s a good win for the boys.”
    In a tightly contested doubles point, the Wildcats were able to eek out wins on courts one and three to secure the point and get the early edge in the match. After the first 30 minutes of doubles were outdoors, the skies opened up, and the match was delayed, to be played indoors. Due to the length of the preceding match of Ole Miss and Alabama, it was some two-hours-plus before doubles play got back underway inside the Gillom Sports Center.
    The first match to conclude was on court three, as Juan Pablo Murra teamed up with Anthony Rossi to collect an 8-5 win over Romain Bogaerts and Zach White of Mississippi State. The Wildcats served first and never lost serve in the match. The break was picked up at 4-3 in the first set as the Rossi and Murra took the 5-3 advantage and never looked back.
    After the Bulldogs claimed the win on court two, the doubles point would ultimately end up being decided on court one in a top-10 showdown. No. 9 Tom Jomby andKevin Lai picked up a break at 2-1 to take the early 3-1 edge and was up a break until the 5-3 mark of the match, when Mississippi State preceded to break back. The match would stay on serve up until the tiebreak. Jomby and Lai had four match points at 8-7 and love-40 up, but No. 10 Malte Stropp and JordanAngus were able to get it back to deuce, save an advantage point, and forcethings to a tiebreak. In the tiebreak, MSU led 2-1 before Kentucky picked up the mini-break at 4-2 and won the next two points to take the 6-2 lead, andearn four more match points. After the Bulldogs cut the deficit to 6-4 in the tiebreak, a forehand into the net by Stropp ended the match, and gave the Wildcats the 9-8 (4) win on court one, and the doubles point.
    With the win, Kentucky upped its doubles-point record to 20-12 on the season. In the two previous matches with Mississippi State, Kentucky was 1-1 in the doubles point, as UK won it in Seattle, while MSU claimed the early point in the teams’ regular-season match in Starkville.
    Jomby would escalate the UK lead to 2-0 in the match as he had a swift dismissal of No. 55 Malte Stropp 6-3, 6-4. Jomby was down a break at 3-1 early in the second set, but fought and battled his way back onto serve and broke at 4-4 to take the win in straight sets. The win propelled Jomby to a 2-0 record this season vs. Stropp as he also defeated him 6-0, 6-2 in Seattle for the ITA NationalIndoor Championships. The win for Jomby pushed his season record to 19-5, including a 9-3 record in SEC play.
    MSU would get a point with a 6-1, 6-3 win on court three to make the score 2-1. Charles Minc fell on court three to James Chaudry .
    Kentucky would up its lead again to 3-1 as senior Anthony Rossi knocked off his 11thranked opponent this season, in a 6-3, 7-5 win over No. 12 Romain Bogaerts.Rossi breezed through the opening set before Bogaerts made a push in the second set. Rossi fell down an early break before swiftly breaking back to push the final set back on serve at 4-4. After a handful of service holds, Rossi broke at 6-5 and served out the final game at love for the win. Rossi, with the win, improves to 21-5 on the season and 9-2 in SEC play.
    After MSU closed the gap with a win on court four, it was all Pennington’s stage, as he clinched the match at 2:22 a.m. CT.

    Pinheiro's Comeback Seals Win for South Carolina Over LSU

    OXFORD, Miss. – No. 17 South Carolina sent three matches to third sets in a nail-biting 4-3 win over No. 20 LSU in the second round of the SEC Tournament Thursday morning at Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center on the Ole Miss campus. The Gamecocks (17-9) won the doubles point, but left the door open for the Tigers in singles. Wins came from the top half of the lineup, but not without drama as two of those went into third sets. Sophomore Thiago Pinheiro rebounded from his first-set loss to be the hero with a hard-fought, tension-filled third set over Olivier Borsos to send the Gamecocks into the tournament quarterfinals for the first time since 2008.
    “It’s been the story of our year,” South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi said. “We are pretty decent tennis players, but the heart that this team has is unmatched. It’s been that way the entire year. I was just extremely proud of Thiago [Pinheiro] there at the end. He’s the heart and soul of this team when it comes down to it.”
    The Gamecocks were in control of the Nos. 1 and 3 doubles matches right out of the gates, cruising to 8-4 and 8-3 wins, respectively, to win the doubles point for the fifth-straight match. LSU lined up for singles ready to turn the tables, though. While Andrew Adams was up a break early, the other five matches were on serve or going in the Tigers’ direction.
    At the top of the order, neither No. 39 Tsvetan Mihov nor No. 50 Chris Simpson could hold serve through the first four games before Mihov broke the skid to take a 3-2 lead. Adams was the first to wrap up his first set, an efficient 6-1 effort over No. 82 Stefan Szacinski just as Mihov went up a break on Court 1. Pinheiro had gotten his break back on Court 3, joining Kyle Koch and Chip Cox on serve, but Harry Menzies dropped his first set to Tam Trinh 6-2 on Court 6.
    Simpson broke Mihov’s serve to stay in the set, but the Gamecock junior came right back to win the 6-4. The Tigers used late breaks to score first-set 6-4 wins on Courts 3 and 5, however. With Adams down a break and Menzies up one in their second sets, Koch was heading into his fifth tiebreak in the last six matches, all of which he had won. Mark Bowtell shook off a pair of set points, though, and managed to close out the tiebreak 7-6 (7) to give LSU four first sets.
    At that point, Adams had gotten back on serve at 4-4 against Szacinski and Mihov had surged ahead of Simpson 5-3 and was serving for the match. Pinheiro was up a break on Borsos at 3-1, and Menzies was also up on Trinh early in the second set. Simpson rallied to stay in the match, and Szacinski continued the momentum with a break of Adams to win the second set 7-5 in the No. 2 match. Shortly after, Menzies wrapped up his second set 6-3 to send the No. 6 match into a third set as well.
    After holding to go up 6-5, Mihov jumped on Simpson’s service game early, setting up a pair of match points. The Tigers’ star saved one but could not deny Mihov on the second, giving the junior a 6-4, 7-5 victory and the Gamecocks a 2-0 lead in the match. Moments later, Boris Arias cut the South Carolina lead in half, though, holding off a late charge from Cox for a 6-4, 6-4 win.
    Losing the first-set tiebreak knocked Koch off his game, and Bowtell was out to an early lead in the second set on Court 4, but Menzies was covering for his doubles partner, opening a 4-0 lead on Trinh in the third set and Pinheiro held on to his early break to post a 6-4 second set over Borsos. Bowtell kept the pressure on Koch, posting a 7-6 (7), 6-2 win to pull the Tigers even a 2-2 with the remaining matches all in third sets.
    Adams and Pinheiro were on serve in theirs, but Menzies saw Trinh continue the Tigers’ surge to get back on serve at 4-3. Adams fought off a break point to hold at 3-3 and was steady through the next two games. With the pressure mounting, Szacinski stumbled first, dropping his service game to give Adams a 5-4 edge and the chance to serve for the match. The Gamecock sophomore used the emotion to jump out to a 40-Love lead. Szacinski staved off one of the match points but sent a shot long to give Adams the 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 victory and put the Gamecocks back on top 3-2. Moments later, Menzies suffered his third-straight service break, leaving Trinh to serve out the 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 victory.
    With the team score even at 3-3, all eyes turned to Court 3. Pinheiro and Borsos were on serve at 3-4, but Borsos had a chance to edge in front with a break point. Pinheiro erased it, though, and held to even the set a 4-4 and score the first point on Borsos’ serve. The Tigers’ senior could not get in front of Pinheiro throughout the game, holding off one break point to get to deuce, but Pinheiro’s pressure won out for a 5-4 lead. His subsequent service game played out much like Borsos’ had with Pinheiro playing catch-up throughout the game. After fighting off a break point, he changed the script, winning the next two points as well to claim the set 6-4 and give the Gamecocks the 4-3 victory.
    South Carolina advances to the quarterfinals, where No. 14 Florida awaits. The match is set to begin at 10 a.m. (ET) on Friday.

    Vanderbilt Takes Out Auburn in Five Sets

    OXFORD, Miss. – No. 16 Vanderbilt avenged its loss to Auburn from earlier in the season with a 4-1 victory over the 21st-ranked Tigers in the second round of the 2013 SEC Tournament Thursday afternoon at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center.
    The No. 7 seed Commodores (16-9) advance to play the No. 2 seed Tennessee Volunteers Friday at approximately 12 p.m. CT in the quarterfinals. With the loss, Auburn fell to 13-10 on the season.
    To begin the match, Vanderbilt took the early lead after winning the doubles point. In the No. 1 doubles position, Gonzales Austin and Ryan Lipman teamed up to upset the fourth-ranked duo of Daniel Cochrane and Andreas Mies, 8-5. Suresh Eswaran and Jeff Offerdahl then clinched the point at the No. 3 spot over Lukas Ollert and Joseph Van Dooren, 8-5.
    Vanderbilt had dropped the doubles point in its previous six matches, with the last win coming against Georgia on March 22.
    Rhys Johnson started singles play with a dominating performance in the No. 6 position. The freshman breezed to a straight sets, 6-0, 6-1, win over Van Dooren to give Vanderbilt a 2-0 lead.
    In No. 4 singles, Kris Yee recorded his 24th victory of the season with a 6-3, 6-2, win over No. 119 Lukas Ollert. Yee improved to 19-2 in dual play during his first season as a Commodore.
    Austin secured the victory for Vanderbilt with his win in No. 2 singles. The Miami, Fla., native defeated Cochrane, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1. Austin is now 23-11 overall this season and 14-8 in dual competition.
    Auburn’s lone victory came in the No. 3 position where Dennis Lengsfeld defeated Offerdahl, 7-5, 6-4.
    Following the SEC Tournament, Vanderbilt will take the court next in NCAA Regional action beginning May 11-13 at campus sites to be announced after conference championships.

    Alabama Clinches Win Over No. 6 Ole Miss

    OXFORD, Miss. – Alabama’s Jarryd Botha delivered one of the most clutch performances of his career, grinding out a three-setter that spanned nearly five hours, with weather interruptions, to clinch the 4-3 victory over No. 6 Mississippi on Thursday in the second round of the Southeastern Conference Championship. With the win, the Crimson Tide ups its season standings to 14-12, while the loss puts the Rebels at 15-8 overall.
    Alabama was edged out in doubles in one of its closest points of the season to give Mississippi the 1-0 lead. On court one, the Rebels’ fourth-ranked duo of Nik Scholtz and Jonas Lutjen picked up an early break to help them to an 8-6 win over the Tide’s Botha and David Vieyra, ranked 13th. The matchups on courts two and three were equally tight with both eventually reaching a tiebreaker. Court two would end up deciding the point, going in favor of Mississippi’s 73rd-ranked team of Johan Backstrom and Stefan Lindmark, 9-8(4). The tiebreaker started out on serve, however the Rebels would win three-straight points to go up 5-3, distancing themselves just enough away from 34th-ranked Becker O’Shaughnessey and Daniil Proskura to soon steal the match.
    With inclement weather moving into the area, only two matches were able to finish outdoors, with Alabama and Mississippi taking one apiece. Stuart Kenyon got the Tide on the board after claiming the first victory in singles, winning 6-4, 6-2 on court five over Backstrom. The Rebels would jump back in front with a win from Adrian Skogeng on court six versus Harris Barnard, 6-3, 6-1. From that point, action moved indoors, where the matchups on courts two, three, and four would be played first on the three available courts. Mississippi extended its lead over Alabama, 3-1, with the conclusion of the match on court four as William Kallberg held on to take the 6-2, 7-5 win against Philippe Tsangarides.
    The remaining three matches all went in the Tide’s favor, first for Proskura on court two, who posted a huge victory over the 16th-ranked player in the nation in Lutjen, 6-2, 7-5. Next up was No. 107 O’Shaughnessey on court three, who outlasted Lindmark, 6-3, 6-7(7), 7-5, to even the match at 3-3, which put all eyes on the matchup on court one. Botha, ranked 73rd, and 15th-ranked Scholtz had a battle from start to finish, splitting the first two sets, with Botha taking the first, 7-6(5), and Scholtz the second, 6-4. The two traded games in the third until the Tide senior captain put it into overdrive and took the final two games to win not only his match, but the team victory as well.
    Next up, Alabama will take on 12th-ranked Texas A&M, the tournament’s No. 4 seed, on Friday at 3 p.m. CT.