Feb. 9, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Traveling down to Lexington, Ky., the No. 50th-ranked Michigan State men's tennis team was on a mission to defeat its first ranked opponent of the season. The Spartans fell short of their mission, losing a close 4-1 decision to No. 17 Kentucky in a match that lasted nearly four and half hours at the Hilary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Center on Sunday. MSU's record falls to 4-4.
"The Spartans played their hearts out today," head coach Gene Orlando said. "We left points on the court and we were close once again. We are improving, this team is resilient and this match will make us better."
MSU nearly took the doubles point to start the match. After juniors Gijs Linders and Harry Jadun lost 8-4 on the second court, both tandems on courts one and three rallied to force a tiebreak at seven-all. On the third court, senior Aaron Pfister and freshman Brett Forman jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead and then went back and forth the rest of the match. Beck Pennington and Maks Gold of Kentucky took a 7-6 lead, but Pfister and Forman forced a tiebreak. MSU kept it close in the tiebreak but could not pull through, losing 8-7(5). Senior Drew Lied and sophomore John Patrick Mullane also rallied and forced a tiebreak on the top court but that match went unfinished as the doubles point had already been clinched.
Down 1-0, MSU began the singles round strong, winning three of the first four first sets. Taking on No. 68 Tom Jomby on the top singles court, Lied took the first set in a tiebreak 7-6(4) but could not hold on and lost 6-3, 6-3 in the final two sets.
Playing on the third court, Mullane came back to win a tight first set tiebreak 7-6(6). Up 5-1 in the second set, Mullane had opportunities to close out the match but Kentucky's Jerry Lopez was able to rally and ultimately won the match in three sets over Mullane, 6-7(6), 7-6(4), 6-3.
Linders rallied to come back from losing the first set to win the second set in a tiebreak, before ultimately falling to No. 97 Kevin Lai, 7-5, 6-7(6), 7-5.
The biggest win of the day, and lone Spartan point of the day, came from the senior co-captain Aaron Pfister on court two of singles. Pfister took down Beck Pennington, ranked No. 55 in the nation, in straight sets 6-2, 6-4. The win marked Pfister's first win over a ranked opponent this dual season. Pfister improved to a perfect 4-0 when competing on court two and has currently won his last three matches in a row.
MSU will get another crack at a ranked opponent next weekend as it travels down to Tulsa, Okla., to take on No. 34 Tulsa on Sunday.
1) Jomby/Kevin Lai (UK) vs. Drew Lied/John Patrick Mullane (MSU) 7-7, unfinished
2) Nils Ellefsen/Ryuji Hirooka (UK) def. Gijs Linders/Harry Jadun (MSU) 8-4
3) Beck Pennington/Maks Gold (UK) def. Aaron Pfister/Brett Forman (MSU) 8-7 (5)
1) No. 68 Tom Jomby (UK) def. Drew Lied (MSU) 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-3
2) Aaron Pfister (MSU) def. No. 55 Beck Pennington (UK) 6-2, 6-4
3) Jerry Lopez (UK) def. John Patrick Mullane (MSU) 6-7 (6), 7-6 (4), 6-3
4) No. 97 Kevin Lai (UK) def. Gijs Linders (MSU) 7-5, 6-7 (6), 7-5
5) Grant Roberts (UK) vs. Brett Forman (MSU) 6-3, 1-6, 1-1, unfinished
6) Ryuji Hirooka (UK) led Harry Jadun (MSU) 6-3, 2-1, unfinished