Feb. 7, 2002
Louisville, Ky. - The 23rd-ranked University of Kentucky men's tennis team was given the chance to avenge the 4-3 loss they suffered to UCLA in a dual match earlier this week. As expected however, the Wildcats were haunted by the Bruins' tough line-up as they fell 4-2 in the first round of the USTA/ITA National Indoor Team Championship.
UCLA took the early 1-0 lead as they swept the doubles point. Evan Austin and Karim Benmansour fought hard but could not find a way past the top-ranked UCLA duo of Marcin Matkowski and Jean-Julien Rojer. Jesse Witten and Rahim Esmail took an 8-5 loss at No. 2, while teammates Gustav Poustte and Matt Emery fell at No. 3.
Kentucky took tough losses at No. 1 and 3 singles, but 10th-ranked Witten grabbed a strong 6-1,6-2 victory at No. 2 over No. 18 Rojer to give the Cats their first match point. Looking for victories at No. 4,5 and 6 to upset the third-ranked Bruins, Kentucky's intensity took over.
Esmail grabbed the second UK victory at No. 6 as he dominated the final two sets over UCLA's Lassi Ketola, whom he defeated in the UK/UCLA match on Tuesday, Feb.5. At No. 4, Emery found himself in a tough battle as he grabbed the first set win but dropped the second in a tiebreak. The third set showed much of the same intensity as Emery started the tiebreak ahead, 6-3,but dropped the set, 7-6(8) suspending the action at No. 5 in the third set, with Pousette leading, 7-5,4-6,3-2.
UCLA will next face No. 12 USC in the quarterfinals on Friday. The Bruins defeated the Trojans last week 7-0 at the Los Angeles Tennis Center.
Elsewhere in the tournament, top-seeded Georgia defeated Brown University, 4-1 and will face Notre Dame in the second round. Notre Dame took a tough 4-3 victory upsetting No. 7 Pepperdine University. Mississippi took an overpowering 4-0 win over Indiana State and will face Illinois who defeated California, 4-1. Stanford grabbed an evening win over San Diego State and will take on the Duke Blue Devils, who upset No. 4 Tennessee, 4-1. Individual team results can be obtained through the ITA webstie at www.itatennis.com.