CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The No. 1 Virginia men’s tennis team (6-1) suffered its first defeat of the season, falling 4-3 against No. 5 Kentucky (7-0) on Friday (Feb. 3) at the Boar’s Head Sports Club.
The over three-hour rematch of last year’s NCAA Championship final was a battle on every court with the winning point being decided in a tiebreaker in the third set on court three.
“Congrats to the Wildcats,” said head coach Andres Pedroso. “It was just a really hard-fought match. They competed until the end, and so did we. They were just a little better I have to give them all the credit. As far as our guys go, we put a great effort on the court and the guys fought hard. This is a great learning experience for us, and we’ll build off it. We’ve got another great match on Sunday and next weekend, so this just prepares us.”
In doubles, Virginia struck first, with Iñaki Montes and Mans Dahlberg winning 6-2 on court two. Kentucky took court one 6-3. Joshua Lapadat and JJ Mercer edged Jeffrey von der Schulenburg and Alexander Kiefer 6-4 on court three to secure the point and put the Wildcats ahead 1-0.
Both singles lineups were down a player. Virginia was without Chris Rodesch, who is in Luxembourg playing in a Davis Cup tie. Kentucky pulled its No. 2, Liam Draxl, sliding their whole lineup up as well.
Virginia won four of six first sets, with Kiefer being edged 7-5 in a tiebreaker in the last to wrap up. Kiefer dropped his second set on court five 6-3 as Kentucky took a 2-0 lead.
The Cavaliers charged back. Montes rallied from a 6-2 deficit in his tiebreaker to decide his second set to win it 8-6 and take his match on the top court against Alafia Ayeni. Von der Schulenburg followed with a 7-5, 6-4 win against No. 14 Joshua Lapadat on court two to tie the match 2-2. Freshman Douglas Yaffa rebounded from a 6-3 loss in his first set against Mercer to win 6-2, 6-2 in the second and third and give UVA a 3-2 lead. Fellow freshman Dahlberg had won his first set 6-2 on court four but gave up a late break to drop his second 7-5 against Jaden Weekes. He fell 6-3 in the third as Kentucky tied the match at three.
Grad student Ryan Goetz and No. 108 Taha Baadi held the fate of the match on their court. Goetz had won the first set 6-3 and Baadi the second 6-2. Their match was on serve at 5-4 when Weekes tied the match with his win on four. Baadi won a deuce point to hold and then both players held serve to force the tiebreaker. Baadi went up 5-1 in the breaker, but Goetz won three-straight points to make it 5-4. Baadi won the final two points to close out the victory for Kentucky.
The loss snaps a 29-match win streak for the Cavaliers dating back to last season and was the team’s first loss since Feb. 19 of last year.
ON THE HORIZON
- The Cavaliers will host Radford on Sunday, Feb. 5 at 5 p.m. at the Boar’s Head Sports Club
#5 Kentucky 4, #1 Virginia 3
- #37 Inaki Montes (VA) def. Alafia Ayeni (UK) 6-4, 7-6 (8-6)
- #45 J vd Schulenburg (VA) def. #14 Joshua Lapadat (UK) 7-5, 6-4
- #108 Taha Baadi (UK) def. Ryan Goetz (VA) 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4)
- Jaden Weekes (UK) def. Mans Dahlberg (VA) 2-6, 7-5, 6-1
- Charlelie Cosnet (UK) def. Alexander Kiefer (VA) 7-6 (7-5), 6-3
- Douglas Yaffa (VA) def. JJ Mercer (UK) 3-6, 6-2, 6-2
- Taha Baadi/Alafia Ayeni (UK) def. Ryan Goetz/Bar Botzer (VA) 6-3
- Inaki Montes/Mans Dahlberg (VA) def. Jaden Weekes/Alexandre LeBlanc (UK) 6-3
- Joshua Lapadat/JJ Mercer (UK) def. J vd Schulenburg/Alexander Kiefer (VA) 6-4
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (5,1,2,6,4,3)