FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – For the second straight match, Blake Strode clinched an Arkansas dual win with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over No. 56 Bruno Agostinelli to give the Razorbacks a 4-2 win over No. 55 Kentucky Sunday at the George M Billingsley Tennis Center. Arkansas, the 69th-ranked team in the latest ITA poll, lost the doubles point, but earned victories on courts one, three, five and six in singles to collect its second Southeastern Conference win of the season.
“This was probably the best tennis we’ve played overall on all six (singles) courts,” head coach Robert Cox said. “We made it tough on ourselves by losing the doubles point against a very good and talented Kentucky team, but I’m really proud of the way our guys battled today.”
Sunday’s victory was just the second win in 19 meetings for Arkansas (9-6, 2-2) against Kentucky since joining the SEC in 1992. The other win came in 2002 in Lexington. With its wins over No. 22 Vanderbilt Friday and Kentucky on Sunday, the Razorbacks swept their weekend matches in conference play for the first time since 2002 when they defeated, coincidentally, the Commodores and Wildcats on the road.
After winning the first set, Strode broke Agostinelli’s serve in the fourth game of the second set to take the lead. On his second match point, the Razorback junior watched as a forehand from his opponent landed wide to seal the win. Strode is 3-2 against ranked opponents this spring following his wins this weekend over Agostinelli and No. 65 Ryan Preston of Vanderbilt.
Matt Hogan and Bradwin Williams rebounded from first-set deficits to win their matches at No. 3 and 6 singles, respectively. Hogan trailed Brad Cox, 4-1, before mounting a comeback and forcing a first-set tiebreak which he won, 8-6. The freshman from Canberra, Australia, ran away with the second set for his 11th victory of the season, 7-6(6), 6-0.
At the sixth singles position, Williams was one game away from dropping the first set at 5-2, but rallied to win the opener in a tiebreak. Williams used a service break in the second set to beat Will Beck, 7-6(5), 6-3. The sophomore netter earned his 15th victory of the season.
Dmitry Lebedev continued his recent hot streak by winning his ninth match in a row by defeating Alberto Gonzalez, 6-3, 6-4, at No. 5 singles. Lebedev is 17-6 on the season and is the only Razorback undefeated (4-0) in conference play.
On court two, Kentucky’s Will Ward defeated Colin Mascall in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2, to give the Wildcats an early 2-0 lead. The match between Chris Nott and Marcus Sundh at No. 4 singles was called after the Razorbacks clinched the dual win. The Wildcat senior was leading, 2-6, 7-6(3), 3-1.
Kentucky (6-8, 1-3) picked up the first team point after its sweep of the doubles point. At the top spot, Agostinelli and Cox beat Strode and Mascall, 8-3. Sundh and Ward topped Taylor King and Tyler Tarnasky, 8-2, while Beck and Shane Collins were victorious at the No. 3 position, 8-6, over Hogan and Lebedev.
Former Razorback Magnus Kullenberg, who was a member of the Arkansas team that beat Kentucky in 2002, was in attendance Sunday. The Arkansas netters will take a break from conference play and travel to Honolulu for a pair of matches March 16 and 17 against Hawaii and BYU-Hawaii. Log on to www.hogwired.com for complete results and continued coverage of Razorback tennis.
#69 Arkansas 4, #55 Kentucky 2
March 9, 2008
*1. Blake Strode (UA) def. #56 Bruno Agostinelli (UK), 7-5, 6-4
2. Will Ward (UK) def. Colin Mascall (UA), 6-2, 6-2
3. Matt Hogan (UA) def. Brad Cox (UK), 7-6(6), 6-0
4. Marcus Sundh (UK) led Chris Nott (UA), 2-6, 7-6(3), 3-1 (susp.)
5. Dmitry Lebedev (UA) def. Alberto Gonzalez (UK), 6-3, 6-4
6. Bradwin Williams (UA) def. Will Beck (UK), 7-6(5), 6-3
1. Brad Cox/Bruno Agostinelli (UK) def. Blake Strode/Colin Mascall (UA), 8-3
2. Marcus Sundh/Will Ward (UK) def. Taylor King/Tyler Tarnasky (UA), 8-2
3. Shane Collins/Will Beck (UK) def. Dmitry Lebedev/Matt Hogan (UA), 8-6
Order of Finish: Doubles (2, 1, 3); Singles (2, 3, 5, 6, 1*)
* – clinching match