Five from Men’s Tennis Earn All-SEC Accolades
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Men’s Tennis’ Liam Draxl, Alafia Ayeni, Josh Lapadat, Taha Baadi and Jaden Weekes have all received ALL-SEC honors for their performance during the 2023 season, the conference announced on Thursday.
Kentucky’s leading trio of Draxl, Ayeni and Lapadat all received nods to the First Team while Baadi was picked to the Second Team and Weekes named a part of the 2023 All-Freshman team.
The Wildcats’ three First-Team selections are the most for the program since it had four in 2012 and are tied for the most in the conference alongside Georgia.
Draxl, a senior from Ontario, Canada, was once again a powerful presence at the top of the UK singles lineup this year going 17-5 in singles prior to the postseason, including 15-5 on the top court. This year’s honor marks the third-straight season in which Draxl has named All-SEC First Team. During conference play, Draxl went 8-3 in singles and 8-2 in doubles. He led the team during the regular season with seven ranked victories in singles.
In his first year in Lexington, Ayeni played primarily at the No. 2 spot in Kentucky’s singles lineup, going 13-8 during the regular season and 7-4 in the SEC. The Cornell grad-transfer totaled six ranked singles wins and also spent the entirety of the conference slate on the top doubles’ court for the Cats. Ayeni, previously a two-time All-Ivy First Team member, now adds this SEC accolade to his resume.
Lapadat rounds out UK’s First-Team selections after a regular season which saw the junior go 17-4 in singles, good for the best win percentage on the team. Alongside doubles partner JJ Mercer, Lapadat also led Kentucky with 12 doubles wins prior to the start of the postseason. An All-SEC Second Team selection last year, Lapadat adds this year’s First Team honors to a list of awards from 2023. The native of Ontario, Canada was picked to the ITA Indoor All-Tournament Team in both singles and doubles and received MVP honors at the SEC Tournament after helping the Wildcats to the title.
Like Ayeni, Baadi also finds himself among those honored by the Southeastern Conference in his first season in the league. A senior transfer from Wake Forest, Baadi went 15-6 in singles in the dual season, including an unblemished non-conference record. The Second-Team awardee picked up eight doubles wins on the top court, including four against ranked opponents. He was also named SEC Athlete of the Week after securing the clinch in UK’s 4-3 upset over No. 1 Virginia.
Kentucky’s final All-SEC selection, Weekes made his mark during his first collegiate semester, going 12-6 in singles in the regular season including 7-4 in conference action. Weekes was also 8-2 in SEC doubles play alongside Draxl, and totaled 15 doubles victories overall prior to the SEC Tournament. Most recently, the freshman was the hero in Kentucky’s SEC Tournament Championship victory over Georgia, as the native of Montreal won a decisive third-set tiebreaker to secure the program’s second-ever SEC Tournament title.
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