Kentucky’s men’s tennis team, coming off a pair of 7-0 sweeps of Northern Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky on Friday, kept their momentum in a big way with a 4-3 upset of 13th-ranked Duke on Sunday in Durham, N.C.
The Cats fell behind early, dropping three tight matches to lose the doubles point.
But Kentucky bounced back with four victories in singles, including defeats of both of Duke’s ranked players.
UK sophomore William Bushamuka, ranked 79th nationally, defeated No. 12 Nicolas Alvarez 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) and freshman Ryotaro Matsumura prevailed against No. 102 TJ Pura 6-1, 6-4. Before Alvarez, the highest-ranked player Bushamuka had defeated was 49th.
“I was really proud of William today,” assistant coach Matt Emery said. “This is a benchmark win for him, and we know it’s only the beginning for him. He was the tougher player on Court No. 1 today.”
Nils Ellefsen, a junior ranked 117th, and freshman Enzo Wallart also picked up victories for the Cats.
“A very good win for us in the beginning stage of the year,” Coach Cedric Kauffman said. “Beating this team on the road with three freshmen and two sophomores in the lineup — after losing the doubles — shows that we have come a long way from last year. The upperclassmen are improving and this freshman class is the best in the country.”
Ellefsen savored the victory over a ranked foe.
“A great win for us on the road and an amazing feeling to upset such a talented team,” he said. “We should have closed out the doubles point as well, but we fought back in singles to win the match. So proud of the guys for today’s effort.”
Wallart clinched the win for the Cats on court five, rebounding from a 3-6 loss in the first set to earn a 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 victory.
“It was an incredible feeling winning 7-6 in the third and bringing the fourth point to the team for the win, especially in my second college match,” he said. “We’re ready for the season.”