Wildcats drop first match of season 4-3 to No. 23 LSU


Carlota Molina prepares for her doubles partner to serve during the University of Kentucky vs. Louisiana State women’s tennis meet on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021, at the Hillary J. Boone Tennis Complex in Lexington, Kentucky. UK lost 4-3. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Hunter Shelton

The UK women’s tennis team were cruising into their conference opener on Saturday afternoon against No. 23 LSU. Sitting at a perfect 8-0, The Wildcats had yet to yield more than two points in a match and had only allowed four points the entire season. The Tigers, standings undefeated themselves, had also not been tested to a great extent through their non-conference schedule. 

Both teams would be in for their first challenge of the season inside the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex. 

LSU took the initial step to claiming the doubles point on court three, as the tandem of Paris Corley and Taylor Bridges knocked off No. 57 duo Lesedi Jacobs and Anastasia Tkachenko 6-4. The result represented the first match loss in doubles competition for Kentucky.  

The Cats would fire back on court one, thanks to first-time pair Akvile Paražinskaite and Carlota Molina. They defeated Eden Richardson and Nina Geissler by a hard-fought 7-5, leaving the doubles point down to court two. 

Carla Girbau and Elizabeth Stevens got the job done on, beating Maggie Cubitt and Safiya Carrington in a 7-6 (7-3) bout to claim the all-important doubles point. Kentucky has still not dropped a doubles point this season. 

LSU would tie the match at one, claiming the first singles win of the day via No. 83 Carrington who won against Molina 6-4, 6-3. 

UK would answer on court one thanks to undefeated Paražinskaite, who defeated No. 41 Bridges in a three-set battle for her first ranked singles victory of the season. The graduate student out of Lithuania fell behind after losing the first set, but rallied to win 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.  

The Tigers evened the score a second time via court three thanks to Richardson, who won a three-set match of her own against Stevens 7-5, 3-6, 6-1. 

The Cats then pulled ahead a third time after Jacobs reigned victorious, finishing Corley in three sets 6-2, 3-6, 6-4.  UK was now just a point away from starting SEC play with a victory over a ranked opponent. 

But LSU wouldn’t go away, knotting things once again as Cubitt defeated Girbau 6-4, 6-3 on court five 6-4, 6-3. This brought everything down to court six, on which Geissler and Fiona Arrese were facing off.  

Geissler ultimately powered through, defeating Fiona Arrese 6-2, 6-3 to play hero for the Tigers. The win gave LSU the 4-3 road victory and handed the Wildcats their first loss of the season.  

Now sitting at 8-1 (0-1 in SEC) the Wildcats look to respond to the embodiment of true back-and-forth affairs on Friday, when they will take on the Alabama Crimson Tide. The match will take place inside the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex beginning at 2:00 p.m. E.T.