Men’s tennis weekend recap: Vols go 0-2 to open conference play

Tennessee men’s tennis opened conference play by losing road games to Kentucky and Vanderbilt.

KNOXVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 25, 2017 - Srdjan Jakovljevic of the Tennessee Volunteers during the match between the Wake Forest and the Tennessee Volunteers at Barksdale Stadium in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Alison P. McNabbTennessee Athletics

Tennessee men’s tennis began conference play over the weekend with a pair of away losses to Kentucky and Vanderbilt.

The Vols (8-6, 0-2 SEC) traveled to Lexington, Kentucky, on Friday to take on the No. 15-ranked Wildcats (10-5, 1-1 SEC) and proceeded to get dominated by their hosts, losing 4-0. The pairs of William Bushamuka and Nils Ellefsen as well as Ryotaro Matsumura and Trey Yates began the day by making short work of Tennessee’s doubles teams, giving Kentucky a 1-0 lead.

Ellefsen (ranked No. 78 in the nation) and Matsumura (No. 21) also scored singles victories against the Vols’ Srdjan Jakovljevic and Luis Valero, respectively. Buck Pennington rounded out the winners for the Wildcats by defeating Scott Jones. Matsumura’s victory was the fourth for Kentucky, clinching the win for the home team and cutting No. 74 Timo Stodder’s match against Bushamuka short. Stodder was winning 7-6(6), 5-3 when the match was called.

Despite the result, Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham was pleased with the performance of several of his players. “Timo’s playing as good as anyone in the country,” he said. “Luis is playing at a high level and guys are playing hard at every position.

The Vols performed better against No. 30 Vanderbilt (9-5, 1-1 SEC) on Sunday, but ultimately fell short yet again, this time losing 4-3. The Commodores took an early 3-0 lead before Tennessee stormed back behind wins by Jones, Jakovljevic and Luca Wiedenmann. Vanderbilt’s Billy Rowe defeated Jack Schipanski to win the match for the home team. No. 61 Cameron Klinger and No. 114 Daniel Valent also scored singles wins for the Commodores. Along with Lachlan McPhee, Rowe was a part of the duo that clinched the point in doubles competition for Vanderbilt.

The match against the Commodores marked the first career conference wins for freshmen Jones and Wiedenmann, and the first of the season for Jakovljevic. Despite being the team’s highest-ranked singles competitor, Stodder lost both of his matches in the opening week of conference play.

The weekend didn’t go exactly as planned, but Winterbotham believes the team can turn the corner soon. “We’re right there. If we continue to have the right practice, continue to have the right focus, it’s just a matter of time.”

The Vols return home to take on Arkansas on Friday beginning at 5 p.m. ET. After that, they’ll play host to the Georgia Bulldogs on Sunday.

Edited by David Bradford

Featured Alison P. McNabb, courtesy of Tennessee Athletics

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Quinn is an assistant sports editor for TNJN and a sophomore majoring in Journalism and Electronic Media at the University of Tennesse. When he's not writing, he's probably doing something else. You can follow him on Twitter (@QuinnNotCook) or e-mail him at qpilkey@vols.utk.edu.