Kentucky womens tennis falls to No. 3 Tennessee in SEC Tournament quarterfinals


Carter Skaggs

Kentucky Wildcats freshman Zoe Hammond waits for her singles opponent to serve during the Kentucky vs. Alabama womens tennis match on Sunday, April 2, 2023, at Boone Tennis Complex in Lexington, Kentucky. Alabama won 4-1. Photo by Carter Skaggs | Staff

Sara Gibson, Reporter

Kentucky womens tennis competed in the SEC Tournament at the Billingsley Tennis Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where the team ultimately fell to No. 3 Tennessee in the quarterfinals.

Heading into the tournament, the Wildcats were ranked No. 11 in the SEC, taking on No. 14 Mississippi State in the first round, where they defeated the Bulldogs 4-1.

Kentucky took the doubles point, starting with an Ellie Eades and Florencia Urrutia 6-2 win on court two.

The Cats’ No. 22 ranked doubles pair Carlota Molina and Lizzy Stevens also won their match 6-2 to clinch the doubles point.

Transitioning to singles, Molina and freshman Zoe Hammond quickly ended their matches in straight sets, with a 6-2, 6-2 win for Molina and a 6-3, 6-3 victory for Hammon on court five.

No. 42 Urrutia handed the Bulldogs their only point in a 6-4, 6-3 loss to No. 68 Emma Antonaki, making the score 3-1.

Clinching the win for the Wildcats was Stevens who took down her opponent 7-5, 6-3 to advance to the next round of the conference tournament.

In the second round of the tournament, Kentucky got revenge over South Carolina for the 2022 SEC tournament when the Cats fell 4-1 in the team’s second match.

This year, the Wildcats would emerge victorious over the No. 6 SEC ranked Gamecocks in a tightly contested 4-3 matchup that came all the way down to the final court.

Kentucky Wildcats freshman Zoe Hammond celebrates after winning a point during her short lived comeback in the third set of her singles match during the Kentucky vs. Alabama womens tennis match on Sunday, April 2, 2023, at Boone Tennis Complex in Lexington, Kentucky. Alabama won 4-1. Photo by Carter Skaggs | Staff (Carter Skaggs)

Giving up the doubles point for just the ninth time this season, Lidia Gonzalez and Hammond were the first to fall 6-1 on court three.

Eades and Urrutia tied things up temporarily with a 6-1 win of their own, but Molina and Stevens would lose to No. 38 Ayana Akli and Sarah Hammer 6-4 to give the Gamecocks the doubles point.

Putting the Cats in a 2-0 hole, Urrutia lost in straight sets to No. 9 Akli 6-3, 6-4.

South Carolina’s momentum would soon halt, with Gonzalez taking down her opponent 6-3 in straight sets.

Tying the match at two, Hammond won a hard-fought battle over Alice Otis, winning a tiebreaker second set 6-3, 7-6 (7-3).

No. 118 Stevens gave the lead back to the Gamecocks after falling in a close match to No. 22 Hammer 7-6(9-7), 7-6(8-6).

However, Molina made things even in a three-set thriller after dropping the first and going 6-1, 6-3, 6-4.

Clinching the upset for Kentucky was Eades who took a back-and-forth match over Gracie Mulville. Eades dropped the first set 6-2, bounced back strong in the second 6-1 and claimed the win in a 7-6 (7-4) final set.

The win sent the Cats to the quarterfinals against No. 3 in the SEC Tennessee, who beat the Wildcats in the regular season 4-2.

Stevens and Molina would win their doubles match on court one, but Gonzalez and Maialen Morante fell 6-3 to Catherine Aulia and Lauren Anzalotta.

Giving up the doubles point, Eades and Makayla Mills also lost 6-3, putting the Cats in a 1-0 hole.

Molina was defeated quickly in singles 6-2, 6-0 on court four.

No. 46 Daria Kuczer took down Eades in straight sets 6-3, 6-2 putting the Vols one point away from the win.

Clinching the sweep for Tennessee, Gonzalez fell in straight sets 6-3, to end Kentucky’s SEC tournament run.