Kentucky mens tennis advances to ITA Championships, defeats Notre Dame 4-1


Travis Fannon

Kentucky Wildcats freshman Jaden Weekes celebrates a point during the Kentucky vs. Liberty mens tennis match on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023, at the Boone Tennis Center in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 4-0. Photo by Travis Fannon | Staff

Aaron Benjamin, Reporter

No. 5 Kentucky mens tennis (6-0) defeated Notre Dame 4-1 during the ITA Kickoff weekend in Lexington, Kentucky, to advance to the ITA Indoor Championships.

Kicking off the day for the Cats was the doubles matches. The first win saw Wildcats JJ Mercer and Joshua Lapadat take an easy 6-1 victory over Matt Halpin and Evan Lee for the Fighting Irish.

Court 1 would consist of a matchup where Notre Dame fought back. The fighting Irish would take the game 6-3 against Cats combo Liam Draxl and Alefia Ayeni.

The third doubles match would go down to the wire, but Notre Dame’s pairing of Matt Che and Yu Zhang ultimately claimed victory over UK’s Alexandre LeBlanc and Jaden Weekes with a final score of 7-6 (1).

Two out of three doubles court wins would give the Irish the 1-0 lead heading into the singles portion.

Starting singles was Wildcat Taha Baadi against Connor Fu. Baadi edged out Fu for the first game 7-6 (5) and the second set would also lean the way of the Wake Forest transfer as he took the 6-2 win, tying the game up with the point.

Next up, Lapadat took on Addy Vashistha for Notre Dame. Lapadat would take the first match 6-2 and the second match 6-3 to sweep his competition.

Over on court two, Ayeni got out a lead and eventually took the first game with a score of 6-4. He then followed by matching that score for the second set and securing another point for the Wildcats.

Kentucky continued to find success as Draxl squared off against Dominko.

Draxl would fall in the first match 6-2, but talk back in the second to come out on top 7-6 (5). Draxl went on to win the last match with ease 6-1.

Now with an overall score of 4-1, the game concluded with a Kentucky win as the other matches would go unfinished. The victory pushes the Cats to 6-0 on the season.

The win also punches Kentucky’s ticket to the ITA National Indoor Championships which will take place Feb. 16-19, at the University of Illinois in Chicago, Illinois.

Next up, the Cats will travel to Charlottesville, Virginia, to take on No. 1 Virginia on Feb. 3. A rematch of last year’s NCAA National Championship, the match is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. EST.