Kentucky Begins ITA Indoor Nationals vs. Florida on Friday
CHICAGO – Owners of the No. 2 overall seed, Kentucky men’s tennis (10-0) begins its quest for an ITA National Indoor title when the Wildcats meet the 15th seed, Florida Gators (4-3) on Friday afternoon at the XS Tennis Village.
Friday’s match will begin at 1 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on both Track Tennis and Cracked Racquets, with live scoring also available on Tennis Ticker. Those wishing to attend the event can purchase tickets here.
The round of 16 matchup will be the first between the Wildcats and Gators since the two programs met in the finals of the SEC Championship last season. UK will be looking for its first win over UF since the spring of 2017.
Kentucky is one of 16 teams in the field for the event, earning its spot with its ITA Kickoff Weekend victory last month. 2023 marks the second consecutive ITA Indoors appearance for the Wildcats. Last year, UK advanced to the quarterfinals before falling, 4-3, to Baylor.
This season’s Cats are undefeated on the season thus far and currently sport the program’s highest ever ITA Ranking at No. 2 in the nation. UK’s signature win to this point came on the road against No. 1 ranked Virginia as the Cats edged the defending national champions, 4-3, in a rematch of the 2022 NCAA Tournament Final.
The Wildcats have won SEC Player of the Week honors each of the last two weeks with Taha Baadi and Alafia Ayeni each earning the recognition. Baadi owns a team-best 8-0 singles record to this point, while Ayeni is 6-2, with two-straight victories over top-30 ranked opponents. Senior Liam Draxl is second on the team with seven singles wins, while standout freshman Jaden Weekes is off to a perfect 6-0 start to his collegiate career.
Kentucky features five players in the current ITA singles rankings in Joshua Lapadat (No. 16), Draxl (No. 45), Charlelie Cosnet (No. 57), Ayeni (No. 66) and Baadi (No. 115).
For Florida, freshman Jonah Braswell comes in at No. 48 in the country in singles. He is followed by junior William Grant (No. 94) and sophomore Nate Bonetto (No. 95). Notre Dame transfer, Axel Nefve, a two time All-ACC First Team selection, has occupied the No. 1 singles position for the Gators this season. In doubles, Florida possesses two nationally ranked pairs with Tanapatt Nirundorn and Togan Tokac at No. 15 and Braswell/Lukas Grief at No. 52.
All teams partaking in ITA Indoor Nationals are guaranteed matches on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The championship match will be played on Monday, Feb. 20.
Ohio State stands as the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed, while a total of five SEC schools are in the field (Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida). Defending champion TCU enters as the No. 3 seed.