Kentucky comes up short in NCAA Mens Tennis National Championship


Michael Clubb

Liam Draxl celebrates winning a set during the UK vs. Virginia tennis match on Thursday, March 31, 2022, at Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex in Lexington, Kentucky. UK lost 4-2.

Cole Parke

Kentucky mens tennis fell short in the NCAA Mens Tennis National Championship on Sunday, effectively concluding the deepest tournament run in program history.

The Wildcats made history in two straight rounds, conquering No. 1 TCU to earn a bid to their first Final Four, followed by a win over No. 4 Ohio State to earn a bid to the first national championship game in program history.

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, the clock struck midnight at the worst possible time, as No. 7 Virginia swept UK 4-0 to claim the title.

The event started the same as the rounds before it, with UK conceding the doubles point, an Achilles heel the team has fought past all season.

Moving on to the singles competitions, where Kentucky had excelled throughout the year, JJ Mercer was the first Cat to fall, being swept by his opponent, Bar Botzer, 6-1 both times.

No. 21 Gabriel Diallo tried to right the ship for the Cats on court two, but he also came up short 6-2 both times against Inaki Montes, putting the Cavaliers just one point away from victory.

No. 4 Liam Draxl attempted to turn the tides for Kentucky in a three-set competition against Chris Rodesch, but his efforts were for not as his match was soon abandoned when UVA’s Gianni Ross swept No. 113 Joshua Lapadat on court five, sealing the victory for Virginia.

With two days of celebrations and rushing the court, the script was flipped on the Wildcats as the Cavaliers rushed the court and celebrated instead, hoisting their fifth national championship trophy in program history.

The loss ends UK’s historic season with three seniors, Ying-Ze Chen, fifth year Millen Hurrion and graduate student Francois Musitelli, on the roster.

Despite the losses, UK returns the bulk of its production next season, with the Wildcats sure to look to build upon its shocking tournament run in 2023.