Cats Fight, Fall Short to No. 3 Georgia
LEXINGTON, Ky.– No. 53 Kentucky (6-5, 1-2 SEC) took an early lead on the 3rd-ranked Georgia Bulldogs (9-3, 3-0 SEC), but ultimately fell by a final score of 4-1. The ITA Indoor Nationals Runner-Up, Georgia used a powerful singles lineup that featured five ranked players to overpower the Cats. The match marked the second-straight SEC loss for the Wildcats following their conference-opening victory over Mississippi State.
Highlighted by a top-30 win on Court 1, Kentucky raced out of the gates to claim the doubles point for the ninth time in eleven matches. Georgia claimed the first set of the day at the No. 2 Doubles spot, as the 39th-ranked duo of Meg Kowalski and Mell Reasco took down Florencia Urrutia and Makayla Mills.
Kentucky would respond quickly, however, with Elizabeth Stevens and Carlota Molina claiming victory in their first match together since January 22. The duo would knock off No. 26 Guillermina Grant and Mai Nirundorn by a 6-3 decision. The win marked the first time the Kentucky pair knocked off a ranked foe this season.
Doubles action would conclude with Ellie Eades and Zoe Hammond clinching victory for the Cats. Playing on Court 3, the sophomore-freshman duet would win a contested 6-2 set over Anastasiia Lopata and Dasha Vidmanova to push Kentucky in front on the dual.
The high-octane Georgia singles lineup would ultimately prove to be too much for the Wildcats to handle. Returning from injury with a doubles win earlier in the afternoon, Molina, a senior from Gran Caneria, Spain, could not keep the momentum going, as she dropped a quick 6-0, 6-2 decision to No. 64 Lopata.
Georgia would claim a lead they would never relinquish with a win at No. 3 Singles, as No. 52 Reasco defeated Eades in a tight, straight-set contest. Eades was locked in a tight battle early but dropped the final three games of the first frame to find herself behind. The sophomore from Floyds Knob, Indiana responded by claiming an early break in the second, but Reasco would go on another run, claiming the final five games of the match to put her team in front.
The 1-2 Wildcat Punch of No. 74 Urrutia and Stevens gave two top-15 Georgia players all they could handle, with the top two courts ending in deciding third sets.
Stevens, matched up against No. 12 Vidmanova, was able to grit out a second-set win to push her match into the decider. Vidamanova rebounded swiftly, though, and was able to claim a fairly easy third set to put the third Georgia point on the board.
Urrutia found herself on the cusp of a top-ten victory after claiming a first set tiebreaker against No. 10 Lea Ma. The senior from Santa Fe, Argentina stretched her lead even further, claiming an early break and leading 4-2 when Ma was forced into a medical timeout. The stoppage proved to halt all momentum for Urrutia, who was not able to serve out three game points in the subsequent game, putting the set back on serve. Ma would then race onwards to victory, claiming ten out of the last 11 games of the match to clinch the victory for the Bulldogs.
The two teams decided to abandon the remaining matches, leaving a potential Wildcat point to the wind. At No. 5 Singles, Hammond, a freshman from Edmond, Oklahoma, claimed the opening set against No. 122 Kowalski. She was then able to take a double break lead in the second set before the match was left unfinished, leaving a final line of 7-5, 3-0 (uf) in favor of Hammond. If she had held on for the victory, it would have marked her second ranked win in eight days.
The match at No.6 Singles also did not reach completion, as Mills was trailing 0-6, 1-4 when competition concluded.
Kentucky will wrap up its three match homestand with a doubleheader against No. 19 Tennessee and Bellarmine on Sunday afternoon. Action on March 12th will commence at Noon EST with the border battle between the Cats and the Vols. The in-state matchup between Kentucky and Bellarmine will start at 4:00 p.m. EST. All home matches will take place at the Hillary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Complex and admission is free to the public. Fans who cannot make it to Lexington can follow along via live stats or watch on Track Tennis.
Kentucky vs. Georgia
Stevens/Molina (UK) def. No. 26 Grant/Nirundorn (UGA) 6-3
No. 39 Kowalski/Reasco (UGA) def. Urrutia/Mills (UK) 6-3
Hammond/Eades (UK) def. Vidmanova/Lopata (UGA) 6-2
No. 10 Ma (UGA) def. No. 74 Florencia Urrutia (UK) 6-7 (3), 6-4, 6-1
No. 12 Vidmanova (UGA) def. Elizabeth Stevens (UK) 6-2, 5-7, 6-1
No. 52 Reasco (UGA) def. Ellie Eades (UK) 6-3, 6-3
No. 64 Lopata (UGA) def. Carlota Molina(UK) 6-0, 6-2
Zoe Hammond (UK) vs. No. 122 Kowalski (UGA) 7-5, 3-0 (unfinished)
Grant (UGA) vs. Makayla MIlls (UK) 6-0, 4-1 (unfinished)
Order of Finish:
Doubles— 2, 1, 3
Singles— 4, 3, 2, 1
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