Wildcats compete at ITA Championships in Tulsa


Kentucky men’s tennis assistant coach Matthew Gordon knuckle bumps Wildcat Joshua Lapadat in the match vs. Duke.IMAGE OBTAINED FROM UK ATHLETICS. PHOTO BY GRANT LEE, UK ATHLETICS. CREDIT: GRACE BRADLEY, UK ATHLETICS

Aaron Benjamin, Reporter

Representatives from the UK men’s tennis team played in the ITA All-American Championships this week.

Fifth-year Alafia Ayeni would reach the round of 16, racking up a few wins while senior Taha Baadi and junior Joshua Lapadat would also pick up victories in the qualifying rounds.

In qualifying, Baadi, a Wake Forest transfer, defeated TCU’s Pedros Vives Marcos in three sets 4-6, 7-6 (6) and 6-4. Lapadat would also get the job done, besting Texas A&M’s Pierce Rollins in two sets 7-6 (4) and 6-1.

Later, In the qualifying round of 64, Lapadat would face Oklahoma’s Justin Schlageter.

The first set went very well for the Canadian, who took the first set 6-1 but the second set was a tight contest with Schlageter coming out on top by a score of 7-6 (4).

With both contestants having won a set each, Lapadat would see the same result as the previous set in the third, concluding his run and sending him home.

With Lapadat headed home, his teammate Baadi would take on Noah Berry from Cal Poly.

Like the last matchup, the Kentucky athlete would take the first set, this time 6-4 before Berry would win two straight by matching scores of 6-3, also seeing Baadi’s tournament run conclude in the round of 64.

Looking past the qualifying rounds, Ayeni, a Cornell transfer, was the only Wildcat to make the round of 64.

Ayeni started competition by playing Duke’s Pedro Rodenas, winning the first set 6-3. The second set would be one point closer, but Ayeni would not be stopped from advancing to the next round.

In the round of 32 Ayeni would be paired with Andres Martin from Georgia Tech in the bracket, again starting the match off strong, winning the first set 7-5.

The second set was tougher as Ayeni dropped it 6-4 but he came back in the third set to eliminate Martin and lock himself into the round of 16.

In the round of 16, Ayeni would see TCU’s Luc Fomba opposing him.

Ayeni took the early lead, winning the first set 6-4, but Fomba won the second set by the same score to force a third and final set.

The moment would be too much for the fifth-year Wildcat as Fomba would ultimately take the third set 6-2 and advance and eliminate Ayeni.

Kentucky next travels to the ITA Regionals, which are to be hosted by Louisville, with the event running from Oct. 13-17 at Bass-Rudd Tennis Center in Louisville, Kentucky.