No. 5 Kentucky Edged by No. 6 South Carolina in SEC Opener
LEXINGTON, Ky. – No. 5 Kentucky men’s tennis (12-2, 0-1 SEC) fell just short in its first match of conference play as the Cats were clipped, 4-3, by No. 6 South Carolina (11-1, 1-0 SEC) on Thursday evening at the Boone Tennis Complex.
After dropping the doubles point, the Wildcats were unable to complete the comeback effort in a hard-fought match that lasted over three hours. The visiting Gamecocks built an early lead courtesy of doubles wins on courts one and two, ultimately holding on to their slim advantage to earn the win.
Kentucky’s Liam Draxl kicked off singles play on a strong note, making quick work of the nation’s sixth-ranked player, Toby Samuel, 6-2, 6-2. For Samuel, the defeat was only his second of the dual season, while Draxl improves his spring record to 10-2.
The Gamecocks moved back in front with a court-four triumph from James Story, before No. 23 Joshua Lapadat tied things at two apiece with a 6-4, 6-3 win vs. No. 80 Raphael Lambling. The UK junior is now 5-2 on the spring against nationally ranked opponents and 10-2 overall.
Seventh-ranked Connor Thomson was able to edge the Cats’ Alafia Ayeni on court two, claiming the result after a prolonged second-set tiebreak, 6-4, 7-6 (8).
Freshman Jaden Weekes mustered a memorable comeback at fifth singles to tie the match at three for the Wildcats. Weekes battled from a set and a break down to overcome No. 90 Casey Hoole, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 for what was the first nationally ranked win of the youngster’s collegiate career.
With all things square at three, the match came down to a third set on court six, where South Carolina’s Jake Beasley grabbed an early break to defeat Kentucky’s Charlelie Cosnet, 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-3.
Kentucky now hits the road to face Texas A&M this Saturday at 2 p.m. from the Mitchell Tennis Center.
No. 1 Samuel/Thomson (SC) def. Ayeni/Baadi (UK): 6-4
Beasley/Story (SC) def. No. 43 Lapadat/Mercer: 6-2
Draxl/Weekes (UK) vs. Hoole/Lambling (SC): 4-5 (unfinished)
Order of finish: 2, 1
No. 27 Liam Draxl (UK) def. No. 6 Toby Samuel (SC): 6-2, 6-2
No. 7 Connor Thomson (SC) def. No. 31 Alafia Ayeni (UK): 6-4, 7-6 (8)
No. 23 Joshua Lapadat (UK) def. No. 80 Raphael Lambling (SC): 6-4, 6-3
James Story (SC) def. No. 100 Taha Baadi (UK): 7-5, 7-5
Jaden Weekes (UK) def. No. 90 Casey Hoole (SC) 5-7, 6-4, 6-3
Jake Beasley (SC) def. No. 102 Charlelie Cosnet (UK): 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-3
Order of finish: 1, 4, 3, 2, 5, 6