Cats Earn First Top-10 Win, Draxl Beats Second Top-Ranked Foe
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 22 Kentucky Wildcats (15-5, 5-4 Southeastern Conference) earned their first win over a top-10 opponent on Friday, defeating the No. 10 South Carolina Gamecocks (11-7, 6-4 SEC) by a score of 4-2 at Hillary J. Boone Tennis Complex.
The Cats move to 13-0 at home, while reigning SEC Co-Newcomer of the Week Liam Draxl picked up his second victory over the No. 1 singles player in the nation.
“Very good win,” said assistant coach Matthew Gordon. “South Carolina are tough and well coached. After losing a couple of close matches last weekend, it was important for the boys to get their first top-10 win.”
After South Carolina claimed the doubles point, Gabriel Diallo—the SEC’s other Co-Newcomer of the Week and the country’s 31st-ranked singles player—paved the path for Kentucky’s victory by opening up singles play with his seamless 6-3, 6-1 win over 40th-ranked Connor Thomson on the second court.
Team co-captain No. 60 Millen Hurrion followed suit with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over No. 68 Raphael Lambling on court three, giving Kentucky a 2-1 lead overall.
Then, the seventh-ranked Draxl outlasted the recently anointed No. 1 Daniel Rodrigues in straight sets, 7-6 (10-8), 6-4. Draxl moves to 2-0 against players ranked No. 1 after having defeated Daniel Cukierman of the University of Southern California 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 on Feb. 10.
“I’m not surprised about today’s win,” said Draxl. “We have the talent to beat anyone in the country. We just have to step out on the court and perform like we can and wins like this one today will keep happening.”
A loss by César Bourgois to 70th-ranked Toby Samuel on the fourth court kept the Wildcats on their toes and brought the Gamecocks to a 3-2 deficit. Samuel came out on top 7-6 (7-4) in the first bracket of a three-set battle before Bourgois answered with a 7-5 win in the second and fell 6-2 in the third.
With eyes fixed on a win in sight, Kentucky’s No. 97 Joshua Lapadat clinched the victory on court five, 6-4, 6-3 over South Carolina’s Jake Beasley.
“I know we had some good individual performances, but I have to give credit to Josh for closing it out the way he did,” Gordon said. “He has been putting in a lot of work recently, and he deserved that win. This is a special team with a strong culture. Good things will happen if they keep working the way they do.”
Kentucky’s homestand will be short-lived, as the Wildcats will complete in their final road match of the regular season on Sunday at noon ET in a highly anticipated competition against the No. 1 Florida Gators (16-1, 10-0 SEC) in Gainesville.
For the latest on the Kentucky men’s tennis team, follow @UKMensTennis on Twitter and Facebook, @kentuckymenstennis on Instagram, and on the web at UKAthletics.com.
#22 Kentucky 4, #10 South Carolina 2
1. #7 Liam Draxl (UK) def. #1 Daniel Rodrigues (USC) 7-6 (10-8), 6-4
2. #31 Gabriel Diallo (UK) def. #40 Connor Thomson (USC) 6-1, 6-3
3. #60 Millen Hurrion (UK) def. #68 Raphael Lambling (USC) 6-3, 6-2
4. #70 Toby Samuel (USC) def. César Bourgois (UK) 7-6 (7-4), 5-7, 6-2
5. #97 Joshua Lapadat (UK) def. Jake Beasley (USC) 6-4, 6-3
6. Yasha Zemel (UK) vs. Phillip Jordan (USC) 3-6, 2-2, unfinished
1. #36 Daniel Rodrigues/Connor Thomson (USC) def. #20 César Bourgois/Gabriel Diallo (UK) 6-4
2. Jake Beasley/Toby Samuel (USC) def. Millen Hurrion/Liam Draxl (UK) 6-4
3. Alexandre LeBlanc/Joshua Lapadat (UK) def. #80 Raphael Lambling/Phillip Jordan (USC) 6-4
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (2,3,1,4,5)
For more information contact:
Connor Link (email@example.com) – (859) 257-3838