No. 10 Kentucky mens tennis defeats USC 4-0; advances in ITA indoor championship


Yasha Zemel 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

Aaron Benjamin

No. 10 Kentucky mens tennis (9-1) won its first-round match of the ITA Indoor Championship on Friday, defeating USC (6-2) 4-0. 

The match was part of the 16th annual ITA indoor championship currently being held at the University of Washington in Seattle with locations split between the Nordstrom Tennis Center and the Seattle Tennis Club. Kentucky’s first round showdown was held at the Seattle Tennis Club.

The night’s action started off with the trio of doubles matches that first saw London, Ontario native Joshua Lapadat and his partner, redshirt sophomore JJ Mercer, take down USC’s Peter Makk and Wojtek Marek 6-1. 

Once the Wildcats took control early, they never looked back.

The next doubles match featured Francois Musitelli and Yasha Zemel for Kentucky taking on Ryan Colby and Paul Barretto.

The pair would be challenged more than Mercer and Lapadat prior, but would still emerge victorious, winning the match 6-3 and clinching the doubles point.

Starting the singles scoring for the Cats would be junior Gabriel Diallo, who took down USC’s Bradley Frye by scores of 6-3 and 6-2 to put Kentucky up by two.

Next, on court five, Lapadat faced off against USC’s Lodewijk Weststrate. 

The first set was rather easy for the Kentucky sophomore as he claimed victory 6-3, but the second set went much longer, with match point being reached twice. 

Despite the close competition, Weststrate would be unable to edge Lapadat with the latter winning 7-6 to put the Wildcats up 3-0.

The success of those before him gave Zemel the opportunity to seal the win for the Wildcats, with the only thing standing in his way being the Trojan’s Ryan. 

Zemel distanced himself early on in the match, winning the first set 6-3, though the tables would be flipped on him as Ryan would take the second set by the same score. 

Sticking to the theme of 6-3, Zemel would win the third set by that score, making all three matches conclude with the same score, earning the win for the Cats.

The win marks the ninth of the season for Kentucky and its second in a row after defeating the Duke Blue Devils Sunday in Durham, North Carolina. 

Next on the schedule, the Wildcats will face the No. 2 seeded Baylor Bears in the second round, with that matchup scheduled to take place on Saturday, Feb. 19, with the time TBD.