COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Service breaks were the difference for Kentucky men’s tennis player Bruno Agostinelli during his round of 16 match, he earned four and surrendered none during his 6-4, 6-1, defeat of USC’s Steve Johnson to advance to the quarterfinals of the 2009 NCAA Men’s Tennis Singles Championships at Texas A&M University’s Mitchell Tennis Center Friday.
Agostinelli becomes the latest Kentucky player to advance to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Men’s Tennis Singles Championships. The last Wildcat to accomplish that feat was Jesse Witten during the 2005 season.
Johnson, ranked 53rd nationally, played aggressive from the start; coming into the net to finish off points. Agostinelli scored the first break of the match in game five to go up 3-2. That would be all that the Wildcat senior needed in the first set. Agostinelli continued to hold his serve and closed out the first set, 6-4.
In the third game of the second set, Agostinelli broke Johnson for the second time in the match to take a 2-1 lead. After that break, Agostinelli would continue to hold serve and break Johnson twice more to rattle off the final four games of the match for a decisive 6-1 victory.
“He played a really good match today,” UK head coach Dennis Emery said. “He made very few mistakes out there. It was a workman-like effort to go out and take control of the match. He got off the court quickly today which is key because it is a long week and very hot out here.”
With the win, Agostinelli improves to 37-13 on the season and advances to the quarterfinals where he will battle familiar foe Steven Moneke a No. 9-16 seed from Ohio State. Moneke came back from a set down against N.C. State’s Jay Weinacker to win 4-6, 6-1, 6-4. Saturday’s matchup will be the fourth meeting between the two seniors.
Last year, Moneke ousted Agostinelli in the first round of the 2008 Men’s Tennis Singles Championships 6-3, 6-4, in a match that continued a long and contentious rivalry.
The name Moneke may sound familiar to Blue and White fans because the Buckeye is the former top-ranked player Agostinelli defeated during the 2007 campaign 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, in a regular-season match in Columbus.
Later that year, at the Polo All-American Championships in the fall of 2007, the rivals met in a first-round consolation match when Moneke was ranked No. 2 in the nation. Agostinelli won the rematch 4-6, 7-5, 6-2. The familiar foes were scheduled to meet again during the regular season in February 2008 but a winter storm kept Ohio State from traveling to Lexington and the match was later canceled.
Agostinelli is in the bottom portion of the top half of the 64-man draw. The Wildcat is just one of three top-eight seeds that remain in the draw. Agostinelli has yet to surrender a set through three rounds of competition.
Should Agostinelli win Saturday and advance to the semifinals, he would face the winner of top-seeded Arnau Brugues of Tulsa and Sanam Singh of Virginia.
Agostinelli reached the No. 2 spot nationally in early March in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) rankings. During UK's final home stand of the regular season last month, Agostinelli earned his 100th career singles victory. Last fall he defeated then-No.1 Oleksandr Nedovyesov of Oklahoma State. Additionally, Agostinelli tallied four straight wins against 2008 NCAA Singles Finalist John-Patrick Smith of Tennessee this season. The Niagara Falls, Canada, native is only the second Wildcat all-time to win All-SEC honors all four seasons at UK.
The 2009 Southeast Region ITA Senior Player of the Year has battled 24 other NCAA selections 31 times this season while recording a solid 18-13 record. Nine of those victories and 10 of those losses were against gentlemen seeded in the top 16 in this year’s tournament.
Links for live updates and video of the 2009 NCAA Men’s Tennis Championships can be found at the men’s tennis page on UKathletics.com.
Stay tuned to UKathletics.com for a recap of each Wildcat match from the NCAA Men’s Tennis Championships.