Draxl, Diallo advance in singles, Paražinskaitė bounces back in doubles


Gabriel Diallo returns a hit during the University of Kentucky vs. Louisiana State men’s tennis meet on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 4-0. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Hunter Shelton

Following a 2-1 record for the Kentucky on day one of the NCAA singles tournament, Monday would see two Wildcats continue their runs to the singles championship, while two duos began their journey to the top of the doubles mountain.

Following a disappointing first round exit in the singles bracket, Akvilė Paražinskaitė would return to the USTA National Campus courts in Orlando, this time with a No. 1 next to her name alongside her doubles partner, Fiona Arrese.

Facing the top seeded pair was Wake Forest’s Brooke Killingsworth and Anna Brylin. The Demon Deacon duo would strike first and swipe the first set 7-5, but Paražinskaitė and Arrese would do what they do best and find a way to win the match. After answering in the second set, the Wildcat pair would put away their ACC foes, winning the match 5-7, 6-3, 10-4, advancing to the round of 16 in the doubles draw. Awaiting the top tandem on Tuesday will be Elysia Bolton and Jada Hart of UCLA.

On the singles side, Liam Draxl and Gabriel Diallo would both look to advance to the round of 16 after claiming three-set victories in round one on Sunday.

Draxl, the No. 1 overall seed, would matchup against Notre Dame’s Axel Nefve, while Diallo would go up against a fellow SEC opponent in Martim Prata of Tennessee.

Draxl would find himself in a similar situation to his round one match against John McNally of Ohio State, as Nefve would nab the first set, putting Draxl in the hole for the second straight day.

But as the Newmarket, Ontario native tends to do, Draxl battled back and won the second set, before closing out the Notre Dame junior and winning the hard-fought match 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, punching his ticket to the round of 16 on Tuesday.

No. 14 Diallo would follow suit of his compatriot, and drop the first set to Prata, but the sophomore would fire back and breeze past UT’s Portugal native, winning the match 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, putting not one but two Wildcats in the final 16 of the singles draw.

Draxl will take on Tennessee’s Adam Walton on Tuesday while Diallo will tango with William Blumberg of North Carolina for a shot at the quarterfinals of the singles tourney.

Diallo’s day would not be done however, as he would suit back up to team with Cesar Bourgois as the No. 6 doubles team. Their first-round matchup would be a familiar one, as they would take on Nefve and Tristan McCormick of Notre Dame. These two teams faced off in January at The Boone in Lexington, a match in which Diallo and Bourgois reigned victorious by a score of 6-3.

The Fighting Irish pair would exact their revenge three and a half months later, taking down the Wildcat pair in a close match, winning 7-5, 7-5, a disappointing exit for the top Wildcat duo.

While the end of day two was sour for the Cats, they finished with a 3-1 record and have multiple opportunities to bring home some hardware to Lexington as the tournaments draw a day closer to the championships.