Draxl first Wildcat in nine years to qualify for NCAA semifinals


Liam Draxl pumps his fist 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

No. 1 Liam Draxl is headed to the NCAA Tennis Championships final four.

After having to overcome three consecutive first-set losses, the sophomore out of Newmarket, Ontario would switch up his strategy for his quarterfinals matchup against Central Florida’s Gabriel Decamps, the No. 8 seed in the singles draw.

Decamps, a junior out of Sao Paulo, Brazil, is the first Knight in program history to qualify for the NCAA Singles Championship multiple times as well as earn multiple All-American honors, providing yet another tough test for Draxl.

After each player held serve the entire way through, it would take a tiebreak to decide who would gain the early edge. Fourteen points later, Draxl secured the first set after a 26-shot rally ended with an errant Decamps volley.

The Canadian wouldn’t look back on Wednesday, as Draxl won the final four games of the second set, avoiding a third set for the first time in the tournament, winning the match 7-6 (8-6), 6-1, cruising his way into the semi-finals.

Draxl is the first Wildcat to make it past the quarterfinals in the singles draw since 2012, when Eric Quigley made a run all the way to the championship.

The only man standing between Draxl and a shot at the title is Florida’s Sam Riffice, the No. 6 seed in the tourney. The match will begin at 12:00 p.m. E.T. at the USTA National Campus in Orlando.