NORMAN – The Oklahoma men’s tennis team returns to the Headington Family Tennis Center Friday when the No. 14 Sooners host No. 28 Kentucky at 1 p.m. CT.
The Sooners come into Friday’s matchup at 9-1, following a 4-3 upset of then-No. 5 Texas A&M, at USTA College Matchday.
After dropping the doubles point, OU reeled off three straight wins by Alex Baskhi, Jochen Bertsch and Max Stewart to take a commanding 3-1 lead. The Aggies would rally to tie the match at 3-3, with all eyes on the No. 4 court for the decisive fourth and final point. Freshman Jake Van Emburgh rallied for a 1-6, 7-6 (4), 7-5 win, fighting off a match point in the second set, to clinch the upset.
With the win, OU surged in the ITA rankings, up to No. 14 nationally from No. 28 the previous week.
ITA No. 108 Bakshi continues to lead OU from the top spot, now owning a 6-1 overall record. At No. 4, Van Emburgh is also 6-1 and is currently riding a five-match winning streak.
Bertsch remains undefeated at 8-0 on court five. The Sooners have one other ranked player in Ferran Calvo, who clocks in at No. 22 in the latest ITA release and is 2-3 on the year.
In doubles, Calvo and Van Emburgh have maintained a perfect record at 6-0 on courts one and two. Bakshi and freshman James Davis have compiled a 4-2 record from the No. 3 line.
Kentucky (7-3) also pulled off an upset in its last competition, defeating then-No. 9 Illinois in Lexington. The Wildcats trailed 3-1 before picking up wins on courts three and six to tie the contest.
Junior Austin Hussey clinched the match in a dramatic third set win on court five, 7-6 (7-3), 6-7 (9-11), 6-4, a performance that earned him SEC Player of the Week honors.
The Wildcats roster features two ranked singles players: Ryotaro Matsumura is No. 63 in the ITA singles rankings at 6-1 on the season, and Enzo Wallart is No. 1115 with a 7-0 record on courts one, three and four. Hussey is riding a four-match winning streak and has compiled a 6-2 record in the two, three, five and six spots.
In doubles, Wallart and Trey Yates are ranked No. 54, but have not played a match together.
The Last Time They Met…
The teams last clashed on May 16, 2014, when for just the second time in program history, the Oklahoma men’s tennis team advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament with a 4-0 victory over the 15th-seeded Wildcats.
That was the Sooners’ second victory over Kentucky that season, after defeating the Wildcats, 5-2, at the Headington Family Tennis Center in February of 2014.
OU owns the all-time record, 3-1.
First serve is set for 1 p.m. CT. Weather permitting, the match will be played outdoors.
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