March 25, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina men’s tennis dropped a hard-fought road contest at No. 18 Kentucky, 4-3, on Friday in Lexington, Ky. The Gamecocks took the first two singles points to go up, 2-1, but the Wildcats were able to retake the lead before closing out a pair of nail-biters to claim the victory.
The competition in doubles set the tone for the rest of the match as the Gamecocks and Wildcats took the fight to each other in a back-and-forth affair. Kentucky ultimately earned the point as sophomores William Bushamuka and Gus Benson topped Carolina’s Gabriel Friedrich and Sam Swank at No. 2, 7-5, before Wildcats Enzo Wallart and Nils Ellefsen clinched, 7-6 (4), at No. 1.
With a revamped singles lineup, the Garnet and Black snagged a pair of straight-set victories to surge into the lead. Sophomore Harrison O’Keefe won for the third time in four tries, taking down sophomore Trey Yates, 6-3, 6-2, at No. 3. Junior Alex Fennell followed suit with a 6-2, 6-1 triumph of freshman Austin Hussey at No. 5.
Kentucky battled back, however, as Benson closed out a tightly-contested battle with Swank at court six, 7-5, 6-4, and Wildcat Ryotaro Matsumura got a 7-5, 6-1 win over junior Andrew Schafer at court two.
Trailing 3-2, the Gamecocks continued to fight and forced third sets at courts one and four. At No. 1, Friedrich drew even in his third set at 2-2 before No. 27 Bushamuka moved in front for good, taking the match, 6-4, 5-6, 6-3, and clinching the win for Kentucky. At No. 4, Mayronne powered past sophomore Jake Stefanik in a third-set super-tiebreaker to earn the 5-7, 6-4, 1-0 (5) victory and make it a 4-3 final.
Head Coach Josh Goffi: “This team has been working their tails off and has been getting better with every single match. It’s a shame that the guys did not get the pay off today against a highly ranked Kentucky team, but we fought until the end. Credit goes to Kentucky. It was great to see Alex Fennell get a singles win because he’s a big point for this team. He’s been working hard to get back to good form, and he looked good today. Harrison O’Keefe played great tennis from the start to the end, and Mayronne battled his way to a victory like he always does. A lot of good things are happening. We look forward to getting back to Columbia to take on Tennessee.”
- Both scoring victories today, sophomores Harrison O’Keefe and Thomas Mayronne remain tied for the team-lead in wins this season with 12 in dual-match play and 25 overall
- Sophomore Harrison O’Keefe is now 5-2 at No. 3 singles, including 2-1 in the SEC.
- Sophomore Thomas Mayronne improved to 6-0 at No. 4 singles, including 2-0 in the SEC.
- Junior Alex Fennell played at No. 5 for the first time this season, starting out 1-0 at that position.
South Carolina returns home to square off with Tennessee on Sun., March 27, at the Carolina Tennis Center at noon. Parking and attendance at all home matches are free.