Kentucky To Host Opening Weekend of NCAA Tournament
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Fourth-seeded Kentucky men’s tennis is primed to host Presbyterian, Northwestern and UCLA for rounds one and two of the 2023 NCAA Tournament this Friday and Saturday at the Boone Tennis Complex.
The Wildcats will face Big South Champion, Presbyterian in the Round of 64 at 1 p.m. on Friday in the second of the day’s two matches. Friday’s opening contest will pit the Big Ten’s Northwestern against UCLA out of the Pac-12. The winning teams will move on to Saturday when they will take the courts once again for a 1 p.m. clash. All action will be streamed on Track Tennis with live stats available on Stat Broadcast.
After making a run to the National Championship match last season, Kentucky is hoping for similar success in 2023. The Wildcats are coming off the program’s second ever SEC Tournament Championship and carry a 24-4 overall record, which includes a 12-1 mark at home. Liam Draxl (No. 13), Alafia Ayeni (No. 18) and Joshua Lapadat (No. 59) are all featured in the ITA singles rankings. Ayeni and partner Taha Baadi carry a No. 28 ranking in doubles, while Lapadat and JJ Mercer remain at No. 67.
Kentucky is 32-29 in the NCAA Tournament all-time including a 17-9 record in the first round. UK is making its 30th NCAA appearance overall. The team has won at least one match in each of the last five tournaments.
Presbyterian (16-9) qualified for the program’s third NCAA Tournament by virtue of winning the Big South Championship last month. The Blue Hose are led by number one singles, Dusan Milanovic, ranked No. 60 in the country and the Big South Player of the Year. The sophomore has posted a 19-2 record for the dual season, all on the top court. Milanovic and partner Maxwell Benson also became the first doubles team in program history to earn an invitation to the NCAA Tournament. The partnership is 13-8 this season and ranked No. 57 by the ITA.
Northwestern enters the tournament as the No. 28 team in the nation and the No. 2 seed in the Lexington regional. NU is 20-9 this season and reached the semifinals at the Big Ten Tournament before falling to Michigan, 4-2. Graduate-student, Steven Forman is 10-3 at first singles and ranked No. 29 in the country. He’s joined in the ITA rankings by No. 66 Ivan Yatsuk. Both Forman and Yatsuk were named All-Big Ten this season. Forman and partner Simen Bratholm form the top doubles pair for Northwestern and are currently ranked No. 54 in the ITA doubles rankings. NU was also a part of Kentucky’s regional last year, squaring off against the Cats in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. UK won that contest, 4-2, in Lexington.
UCLA (12-10) makes its return to the NCAA Tournament stage after missing out on the event last season. The 16-time NCAA team champions were beaten by Utah in the Pac-12 tournament and are No. 35 in the ITA team rankings. Senior Patrick Zahraj has seen most of the action at first singles, while junior Timothy Li and sophomore Giacomo Revelli are the No. 56 doubles team in the nation.
Tickets are on-sale NOW to the general public through UKathletics.com and the UK Ticket Office. Tickets are $10, while children ages 2-18 and seniors 65+ will have a discounted price at $8. All seating is general admission. Friday’s ticket is good for both matches. Children aged 2 and under are admitted free with a paying adult. All tickets must be purchased in advance using the links provided.
Full-time University of Kentucky students may show their valid UK student ID at the ticket trailer outside Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex on match day for a free ticket, paid for by UK Athletics.
Tickets will be available via mobile delivery. Ticket purchasers will be able to access their tickets electronically through My UK Account (am.ticketmaster.com/uky/) or the UK Athletics App after purchase using the email they purchased tickets with. Additional mobile ticket information may be found online at UKAthletics.com/mobiletickets. Gates open 1 hour prior to the first match of the day.
Friday, May 5
UCLA vs. Northwestern – 10 a.m.
No. 4 Kentucky vs. Presbyterian – 1 p.m.
Saturday, May 6
Winner of Match 1 vs. Winner of Match 2 – 1 p.m.