On Sunday, No. 2 Kentucky faced off against No. 3 TCU in a highly anticipated matchup at the XS Tennis Village. Despite a valiant effort, the Wildcats were unable to overcome an early deficit and ultimately fell to the reigning champions, 4-2. The closely contested match was a rematch of last year’s NCAA Quarterfinal, and it did not disappoint.
The Horned Frogs started off strong by claiming the doubles point, taking two of the three courts by a single break. Kentucky got off to a promising start with a 6-2 win on court two, but TCU secured the set at third doubles with a 6-3 win over Liam Draxl and Jaden Weekes. The opening point came down to the top court, where the duo of Alafia Ayeni and Taha Baadi had multiple game points to stay in the match. However, TCU was able to break and clinch the set with a 6-4 victory.
In singles action, both teams fought hard with each team taking the first set on three of the courts. TCU was the first to add a point in the second half of play as Weekes fell to No. 124 Sebastian Gornzy in straight sets. However, Kentucky responded with a straight-set victory of their own, as No. 45 Draxl claimed a top-20 victory by defeating No. 17 Jake Fearnley 7-6 (1), 6-4.
The rest of the singles matches would be decided in third sets, with the final four courts going to deciders. In a ranked matchup, Ayeni put up a strong fight, rebounding from a first set defeat before ultimately falling 6-4 in the third. With TCU one point away from clinching the match, Joshua Lapadat added another point to the Wildcat tally by claiming a back-and-forth 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 victory at No. 3 Singles.
Unfortunately for Kentucky, the Horned Frogs finished off the match at No. 6 Singles, as Tomas Jirousek claimed a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory over No. 57 Charlelie Cosnet. Although Cosnet was able to get back on serve late in the final frame, Jirousek immediately regained the advantage and served out the match, sending TCU to its second-straight ITA Indoor National Championship match.
Despite the loss, Kentucky can take solace in the fact that they put up a good fight against a tough opponent. The ‘Cats will have the next week off to rest up before opening Southeastern Conference play. Their next match will be a home, top-ten battle with South Carolina to kick off the league season on March 2 at the Hillary J. Boone Tennis Complex in Lexington, Ky. Admission is free to the public, and fans can follow along via live stats or by tuning in on Track Tennis.
Overall, the match between Kentucky and TCU was an intense and exciting battle between two talented teams. It was a fitting rematch of last year’s NCAA Quarterfinal, and it lived up to the hype. Although Kentucky fell short, they showed that they are a force to be reckoned with and are sure to come back even stronger in their next match.
Kentucky vs. TCU
Fearnly/Fomba (TCU) def. Alafia Ayeni/Taha Baadi (UK) 6-4
Joshua Lapadat/JJ Mercer (UK) def. Jong/Pinnington Jones (TCU) 6-2
Gornzy/Vives Marcos (TCU) def. Liam Draxl/Jaden Weekes (UK) 6-3
No. 45 Liam Draxl (UK) def. No. 17 Fearnley (TCU) 7-6 (1), 6-4
No. 49 Fomba (TCU) def. No. 66 Alafia Ayeni (UK) 6-4, 4-6, 6-4
No. 16 Joshua Lapadat (UK) def. Pinnington (TCU) 6-2, 2-6, 6-2
No. 115 Taha Baadi (UK) vs. Jong (TCU) 7-6 (3), 6-7 (4), 1-1 (unfinished)
No. 124 Gorzny (TCU) def. Jaden Weekes (UK) 6-2, 6-3
Jirousek (TCU) def. No. 57 Charlelie Cosnet (UK) 6-4, 3-6, 6-3
Order of Finish:
Doubles—2, 3, 1
Singles—5, 1, 2, 3, 6