Paražinskaitė, Arrese earn ITA honors


Fiona Arrese high fives Akvilė Paražinskaitė after scoring a point during the University of Kentucky vs. Tennessee women’s tennis match on Sunday, March 28, 2021, at Hillary J. Boone Tennis Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Hunter Shelton

In what was a historic year for Kentucky’s top duo, Akvilė Paražinskaitė and Fiona Arrese capped off their 2020-21 season with All-American honors, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) announced on Monday.

The Wildcat combo became the first pair to be ranked No. 1 since Mami Adachi and Aldila Sutjiadi in 2016 and the first pair to earn the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Championships doubles draw under head coach Carlos Drada.

The tandem’s season came to end in the round of 16 in the tournament, where they fell to Elysia Bolton and Jada Hart of UCLA, 6-3, 6-2.

Despite the second-round exit, the duo finished the Spring with a stellar record of 21-5, with seven of those wins coming against fellow ranked opponents.

Paražinskaitė and Arrese were both also selected to the All-SEC First Team, the first time since 1987 that UK had two players selected in the same season.

These are the last honors that two-time UK graduate Paražinskaitė will receive, while they are just the first for Arrese.

Paražinskaitė, a 24-year-old from Vilnius, Lithuania, manned the helm for the Cats, playing on the No. 1 singles court all season. This year marked her first-ever NCAA appearance in the singles tournament, where she fell in round one. In 2019, Paražinskaitė teamed with Justina Mikulskyte in the doubles field.

Arrese was named an All-SEC Freshman in her first season in Lexington. Hailing from Barcelona, she was the first freshman to accomplish this feat since 2016 and is one of six UK freshman all-time to be recognized.