TCU Men's Tennis Upsets Kentucky to Reach NCAA Round of 16
May 16, 2004
Despite the odds of facing the No. 11-ranked men's tennis team in the nation on its home turf in round two of the 2004 NCAA Regionals, the 16th-rated TCU Horned Frogs managed to upset the 12th-seeded Kentucky Wildcats by a 4-2 count Sunday at the Boone Tennis Complex. Kentucky ended the year at 19-10, while TCU improved to 18-6. The Frogs now head to Tulsa, Okla., for the NCAA Championships, an event it has been absent from the past two years. TCU will face No. 33 Clemson in the round of 16 May 22. A time for the match has not been set. The Tigers also recorded an upset victory Sunday, stunning No. 5-seeded and sixth-ranked Duke, 4-3, in Durham, N.C.
"The team played awesome," said TCU head coach Joey Rivé. "I'm so proud of them. It was an unbelievable match. Kentucky is a very good team and we had to play in some very tough conditions. Every match had some drama."
The Purple and White took a 1-0 lead after another heated doubles point. UK won the first match at the top position, where the No. 14 duo of Rahim Esmail and Jesse Witten defeated TCU's 36th-ranked tandem of Rafael Abreu and Fabrizio Sestini, 8-5. TCU's Jacob Martin and Alex Menichini kept things alive with a come-from-behind victory at three over Nate Emge and Tigran Martirosyan, 9-8(3). Martin and Menichini trailed by a 6-3 score before winning six of the next eight games. Hector Almada and Jacopo Tezza clinched the point for the Frogs by downing Evan Austin and Alex Hume by a 9-7 tally at the No. 2 slot.
In singles, Almada put TCU ahead 2-0 when he made short work of Austin at two, winning by scores of 6-3, 6-1. It was his sixth victory in a row and upped his record on the year to 13-5.
The Horned Frogs thought they were leading 3-0 when No. 94-ranked Martirosyan was defaulted at the No. 3 spot for using excessive profanity. After Kentucky's coaching staff protested the official's ruling, the decision was reversed and Martirosyan and Sestini resumed their match after a delay of more than 20 minutes. Sestini won the first set, 6-3, and was leading 4-3 in the second when the default occurred.
During the protest, the Wildcats were able to snag a couple of wins at one and five singles. Esmail ousted Abreu in straight sets, 6-2, 7-5, at the fifth position to give Kentucky its first point, and No. 6-rated Witten defeated No. 48 Menichini in three sets, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.
With the match tied 2-2, Sestini rose to the occasion after wrestling with the frustration of continuing his match when he thought it was over. The Rome, Italy, native won by a 7-4 count in a second-set tiebreaker for his 22nd triumph of the season to put the Frogs back on top, 3-2. Sestini also improved to 16-4 in dual matches and 10-2 at No. 3 singles.
The deciding match came at No. 6 singles between Martin and Hume. Martin claimed the first set easily, winning 6-2, but Hume turned the tables in the second and came out victorious by the same score. The third stanza was much closer and Martin prevailed by a 7-5 count to put the match in the books. Tezza and Emge's match at the No. 4 slot was suspended with Tezza up a set and 5-4 in the second.
TCU and Clemson have a great deal of history together, having played almost every year from 1977-1999. The Tigers own a 10-9 edge on the Horned Frogs in spring matches, while TCU leads the overall series, 11-10. TCU won two matches against Clemson during the fall of 1977 and 1978. The two teams have never met in the NCAA Tournament. The Frogs won the last meeting over the Tigers, 4-3, in Fort Worth in 1999.
Order of Finish: 2, 5, 1, 3, 6*
Order of Finish: 1, 3, 2*
* Clinching point