Kentucky Men’s Tennis Finishes Season as National Runner-Up
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The eighth seed Kentucky Wildcats were unable to overcome the seventh seed Virginia Cavaliers in the NCAA Championship title match on Sunday afternoon, falling by a 4-0 result at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex in Champaign, Illinois.
UK had its best season in program history despite the loss. The Wildcats made its first national title appearance after winning five matches in impressive fashion, including hosting the first and second rounds in Lexington. Kentucky, which was the first eighth-seeded team to advance to the championship final since 2009, now holds a 34-31 record in the NCAA Tournament.
Kentucky finished its historic season with an overall 26-8 record and tied for second in the Southeastern Conference standings.
“I think we took a big, giant leap forward as a program,” said head coach Cedric Kauffmann. “In a few days, these guys will realize what they did, get back to work and come to try to do this again.”
Two Kentucky athletes were featured on the NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team. Liam Draxl was named to the top spot after finishing 2-0 on the weekend, with both wins coming against top-12 opponents in singles. Graduate student Francois Musitelli closed his collegiate career by earning the selection on the fourth position, also going 2-0 in Champaign against ranked opponents.
The match opened in doubles competition, with Virginia claiming commanding leads on courts two and three that proved to be too much to overcome.
Liam Draxl and Alexandre LeBlanc faced off against Gianni Ross and Jeffery Von Der Schulenburg and were unable to find their footing. The UK tandem eventually fell by a 6-1 result. Following them was Gabriel Diallo and Joshua Lapadat, who dropped to Ryan Goetz and Inaki Montes, 6-3, and finished with a 5-3 record in doubles together this season.
Trailing 1-0 in the match, Kentucky found itself in a position it had been in multiple times this season, including the previous five tournament matches. However, unlike the other postseason contests, the Wildcats could not mount a comeback in singles competition.
JJ Mercer was unable to get momentum to swing his way when taking on Bar Botzer on court six. The redshirt sophomore lost his match by a 6-1, 6-1 result.
39th-ranked Inaki Montes, who took on Draxl when the team’s faced off in Lexington earlier this season, was able to avenge his loss in the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Center by defeating No. 21 Diallo. The UK junior fell in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2, and finished the season 20-4 in dual matches, including 10-3 in the two position.
The Cavaliers clinched the match on court five, with No. 113 Lapadat dropping the final match of his sophomore season by a 6-4, 6-4 result. Lapadat finished the year tied for the most dual match wins on the team with a remarkable 21-4 record.
Although the team competition has concluded, Diallo and Draxl’s postseason will continue at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex on Monday in the individual tournament. The UK juniors will begin play at 6:30 and 7 p.m. ET, respectively.
Tickets for the NCAA Individual Tournament are on sale now and fans are encouraged to purchase them in advance. A ticket for a single day for any portion of the tournament is $17 and an all-session ticket for the tournament is $57. Fans interested in purchasing tickets can access the link to do so here.
For fans who cannot attend the match in person, TennisONE is your home for the NCAA Tournament. The TennisONE app will live stream all matches throughout the postseason. The app is free to download on the iOS and Google Play app stores and can be accessed on the web here.
#7 Virginia 4, #8 Kentucky 0
1. #30 Chris Rodesch (VA) vs. #4 Liam Draxl (UK) 2-6, 7-5, unfinished
2. #39 Inaki Montes (VA) def. #21 Gabriel Diallo (UK) 6-2, 6-2
3. #45 J vd Schulenburg (VA) vs. #33 Millen Hurrion (UK) 2-6, 6-3, 2-2, unfinished
4. #96 Ryan Goetz (VA) vs. Francois Musitelli (UK) 6-0, 6-6 (6-5), unfinished
5. Gianni Ross (VA) def. #113 Joshua Lapadat (UK) 6-4, 6-4
6. Bar Botzer (VA) def. JJ Mercer (UK) 6-1, 6-1
Order of finish: 6, 2, 5*
1. #61 Bar Botzer/Chris Rodesch (VA) vs. #55 Millen Hurrion/Francois Musitelli (UK) 4-4, unfinished
2. Ryan Goetz/Inaki Montes (VA) def. Gabriel Diallo/Joshua Lapadat (UK) 6-3
3. Gianni Ross/J vd Schulenburg (VA) def. Liam Draxl/Alexandre LeBlanc (UK) 6-1
Order of finish: 3, 2*