Auburn University downs Kentucky 4-1 in the 2024 SEC opener

The Tiger will Vanderbilt, the next weekend

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Auburn University downs Kentucky 4-1 in the 2024 SEC opener
© Noelle Iglesias / Auburn Tigers

The No. 12 Auburn University women's tennis team holds Kentucky 5-2, at home in the 2024 SEC opener, Friday afternoon at the Yarbrough Tennis Center.
Auburn will return to the Yarbrough Tennis Center on Sunday to take on Vanderbilt.

The Tigers bounced back to win the doubles point and pick up four singles wins in the team's first home match since Feb. 4.

The match began with three very competitive doubles matches. Down 3-2 at one point against Lidia Gonzalez and Ellie Edes, Auburn's top doubles team of Ariana Arseneault and DJ Bennett fought back to tie the match at four before claiming the next two games for a 6-2 victory.

Kentucky won 6–4 on the court three moments later, setting up a winner-take-all game for double points on court two. Angella Okutoyi and Adeline Flach trailed 4-5 on court two when the final doubles match remained, but the Tiger pair caught fire and won the next three straight matches to earn a 7-5 win and the double point. Okutoyi and Flach's win was their first of the season.

In singles, Carolyn Ansari earned a quick 6-1, 6-1 win on court one over Elizabeth Stevens, extending her singles winning streak to three and improving her singles record in doubles play to 6- 2. Arseneault wasn't far behind her teammate, earning her eighth singles victory of the season in straight sets over Lidia Gonzalez to give Auburn a 3-0 lead and bring the team within one singles victory of squad.

Kentucky won the sixth court in straight sets to cut the deficit to 3-1, and all three remaining games went into the third set. After dropping her first set to Ellie Eades, Bennett came back strong in the next two sets, winning ten consecutive games in the next two sets to win the match 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 and take the opening victory of the SEC for the Tigers.

Angella Okutoyi returned after dropping the opening set to defeat Zoe Hammond 2-6, 6-1, 7-5 for her sixth singles win of the spring.

Auburn coach Lester Cook analyzed his Tigers' performance, explaining: "We really had a lot of anticipation for this game because we were just trying to get over last month, and now having the SEC schedule here is really exciting. It's been a great way to start. Kentucky is a good team. They're ranked 57th but they're playing at a higher level than they're ranked at right now. It was a tough match. It didn't start so well in singles, but we got it how to react and they did a good job just competing today.”

Women's doubles:

1. Ariana Arseneault/DJ Bennett (AUB) def. Lidia Gonzalez/Ellie Eades (UK) 6-4

2. Angella Okutoyi/Adeline Flach (AUB) def. Makayla Mills/Elizabeth Stevens (UK) 7-5

3. Zoe Hammond/Ellie Myers (UK) def. Carolyn Ansari/Selin Ovunc (AUB) 6-4

Women's singles:

1. #16 Carolyn Ansari (AUB) def. Elizabeth Stevens (UK) 6-1, 6-1

2. #73 Ariana Arseneault (AUB) def. Lidia Gonzalez (UK) 6-3, 6-2

3. #77 DJ Bennett (AUB) def. Ellie Eades (UK) 4-6, 6-1, 6-0

4. #105 Angella Okutoyi (AUB) def. Zoe Hammond (UK) 2-6, 6-1, 7-5

5. Julia Zhu (UK) def. Selin Ovunc (AUB) 6-2, 3-6, 7-5

6. Ellie Myers (UK) def. Adeline Flach (AUB) 7-6 (9-7), 6-0

Auburn University Vanderbilt