LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the first time this season, the University of Kentucky men’s tennis team tasted defeat at Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex.
The 15th-ranked and 14th-seeded host Wildcats fell 4-2 to No. 18 Arizona in the second round of the NCAA Championship, concluding the team portion of their 2020-21 campaign with a record of 19-8 overall and 16-1 at home.
“First, congratulations to Arizona,” said UK head coach Cedric Kauffmann. “We’ve been pretty tough to beat at home—we were undefeated before this match. They played really gritty and made us play extra balls.”
Arizona jumped out to an early lead and ultimately never trailed. First, Jonas Ziverts and Herman Hoeyeraal defeated Liam Draxl and Millen Hurrion 6-4 on the second doubles court before Kentucky answered back with a 6-4 win for Joshua Lapadat and Alexandre LeBlanc over Nick Lagaev and Filip Malbasic on court three. However, Carlos Hassey and Alejandro Reguant secured the doubles point for Arizona with a 6-4 upset of No. 6 Gabriel Diallo and César Bourgois in the No. 1 spot.
The 33rd-ranked Hurrion recovered nicely with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Malbasic to earn the contest’s first singles point on court three. Hassey defeated LeBlanc 6-3, 6-4 on the last court, giving Arizona the lead once more.
The final four singles bouts were stretched to three sets each, with Hoeyeraal defeating No. 85 Bourgois 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 to give Arizona a 3-1 lead. The No. 1-ranked Draxl recouped from a slow start to beat No. 45 Gustaf Strom 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, but the match ended when No. 14 Diallo fell 6-7 (6-8), 6-1, 6-4 to No. 90 Ziverts on court two.
The back-and-forth battle between No. 105 Lapdat and Reguant was left unfinished at 6-4, 1-6, 6-6 on court five.
“I hope (the fans) enjoyed watching those boys,” Kauffmann said. “They’ve worked hard for the Big Blue Nation. We always appreciate the Kentucky support.”
Despite losing as a team, four Wildcats will compete for a national championship at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Florida, on May 23-28. Draxl—the singles tournament’s No. 1 overall seed— as well as Diallo and Hurrion will partake individually, while Diallo and Bourgois will team up once more for doubles competition.