The University of Kentucky men’s tennis team received a brief scare when Cleveland State captured the doubles point during their NCAA Tournament-opening match in Lexington on Friday, but the Wildcats took care of business from that point.
Kentucky, the No. 14 overall seed in the 64-team tournament, quickly swept through four straight-sets singles victories to close out the match, 4-1, at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex.
The Wildcats, 19-7 and ranked 15th in the nation, advanced to face 19th-ranked Arizona (20-7) on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Lexington.
The UK-Arizona winner, along with 15 winners from other regional sites around the country this weekend, will move on to the NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Championships in Orlando, Fla., from May 17-28.
Arizona defeated Michigan 4-3 in Friday’s opening match in Lexington.
Cleveland State’s Clark Bilinovich and Kade Mindry defeated Kentucky’s Joshua Lapadat and Alexandre Leblanc, 6-3, at No. 3 doubles in the first match to be completed Friday. Cleveland State’s Nico Mostardi and Luke Phillips then knocked off Kentucky’s Cesar Bourgois and Gabriel Diallo, 7-6, in No. 1 doubles to secure the doubles point for the Vikings.
Leblanc got Kentucky back on track by defeating Mindry, 6-1, 6-0, at No. 6 singles to tie things, 1-1. Bourgois then bounced Cleveland State’s Maxime Mareschal-Hay, 6-2, 6-3, at No. 4 singles to put the Cats in front for good.
Millen Hurrion put away the Vikings’ Phillips, 6-2, 6-2, in the No. 3 match, then Liam Draxl, the No. 1-ranked men’s singles player in the nation, swept Cleveland State’s Mostardi, 7-5, 6-1, in the No. 1 match to seal up the victory.
Women’s team also advances
Kentucky’s women’s tennis team won a back-and-forth affair over Syracuse, 4-3, on Friday to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament’s California Regional in Berkeley.
The Wildcats (16-8) were to face either No. 16 overall NCAA seed California or San Jose State in the round of 32 on Saturday.
UK freshman Fiona Arrese pulled out the decisive match Friday against Syracuse, winning 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 over Polina Kozyreva.
Kentucky’s teams of Carla Girbau and Anastasia Tkachenko and Lesedi Jacobs and Elizabeth Stevens secured the doubles point for UK by winning their matches. Kentucky’s only doubles defeat, surprisingly, came from its team of Arrese and Akvile Parazinskaite, which is ranked No. 1 in the country. Syracuse’s 38th-ranked squad of Victoria Kanapatskaya and Natalie Novotna pulled the 6-3 upset.
Kentucky’s Jacobs and Girbau joined Arrese in winning singles matches for the Wildcats.