No. 16 Kentucky falls to No. 10 Texas A&M in conference road opener


César Bourgois celebrates 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

After opening conference play with a 4-0 sweep of LSU, the No. 16 UK men’s tennis team hit the road for the start of a three-match trip away from Lexington. 

First up for the 11-1 (1-0 SEC) Wildcats was a trip to College Station to face No. 10 Texas A&M at the Mitchell Tennis Center. The Aggies represented the second ranked matchup of the year for Kentucky, outside of then-No. 1 USC. 

The Aggies boasted a 5-1 (2-0 SEC) record that included three road victories over ranked opponents, and five players ranked in the ITA singles poll, headlined by No. 4 Valentin Vacherot and No. 13 Hady Habib.  

Both teams had their way in doubles action prior to their meeting, with UK winning the doubles point in 11 of 12 tries and A&M a perfect six for six. Something would have to give.

The Aggies got out on the front foot in doubles play, as the country’s No. 48 pair, Carlos Aguilar and Bjorn Thomson, bested top Wildcat duo Cesar Bourgois and Gabriel Diallo 6-2. 

A&M then claimed the doubles point on court two behind Habib and Noah Schachter’s 6-3 win over Liam Draxl and Alexandre Leblanc, putting UK in a 1-0 hole for the second time this year.  

The only other time the Cats found themselves down going into singles play – against Louisville – they responded with four singles wins. That proved to be a difficult task versus such a talented Aggie bunch.  

The Cats did finish on top in the first singles battle of the day, tying things at one thanks to Bourgois. The Wildcat captain earned his first ranked singles win, and moved to 9-1 in singles action, by defeating No. 33 Aguilar 6-3, 6-1. But that would be the only point Kentucky notched.

No. 13 Habib answered Bourgois’ victory by beating Diallo 6-3, 6-3. No. 116 Schachter then knocked off No. 123 Joshua Lapadat in a quick 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 bout. 

Texas A&M claimed the overall win on court one in the marquee matchup of the day. Top Cat, No. 45 Liam Draxl, suffered his first singles loss of the year, falling to No. 4 Vacherot in a tough 7-8 (8-6), 6-3 outing.

The teams finished the final two ongoing matches, which did not go Kentucky’s way either. Guido Marson defeated Yasha Zemel via hard-fought 7-6 (7-3), 7-5 and Raphael Perot outlasted freshman Mathis Moysan 6-7 (3-7,) 6-3, 1-0 (10-5,) in what was only Moysan’s fifth match of the season. The 6-1 final in favor of the Aggies dropped the Cats to 11-2 (1-1 SEC). 

Kentucky will try to bounce back on Friday when it travels to Tuscaloosa to take on another ranked foe: No. 23 Alabama. The meeting with the Crimson Tide set to begin at 7:00 p.m. E.T. in the Alabama Tennis Stadium.