Kentucky mens tennis moves to 3-0 on the season after win over Illinois


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.

Samantha Money, Assistant Sports Editor

No. 4 Kentucky mens tennis defeated power-five opponent Illinois in a solid 4-1 win against the Fighting Illini inside the Hillary J. Boone Indoor Tennis Center this weekend.

The match saw two Wildcats have a prosperous day with 2021 National Player of the Year Liam Draxl and Joshua Lapadat going undefeated in both singles and doubles matches.

With doubles up first, Draxl, partnered with Alafia Ayeni, brought in the first win against Illinois with a 6-4 victory.

The second doubles win came from Lapadapt and JJ Mercer who also took down their competition against the Fighting Illini 6-4.

With two out of three courts with a doubles win in favor of Kentucky, the overall doubles point went to the Wildcats.

Moving into singles with the lead, three Wildcats reeled in the win for Kentucky.

First up was Taha Baadi who swept his Illinois opponent in easy 6-1 and 6-0 wins.

Despite Illinois’ Karlis Ozolins 6-4, 6-4 defeat over fifth-year senior Alafia Ayeni, it was not enough to keep the Cats down for long.

Within minutes of each other’s wins, Draxl and Lapadapt brought in singles victories that ultimately put an end to the rest of the matches on the court.

With a 4-1 score, Jaden Weeks and Mercer left their matches unfinished as the Wildcat win had already been achieved.

Now 3-0 on the season, Kentucky will stay at home to host the ITA Kickoff Weekend featuring Liberty, Washington and Notre Dame.

The Wildcats will begin the matchups inside Hillary J. Boone Tennis Center on Friday, Jan. 27 at 1 p.m. against Liberty. Admission is free to the public.