5-seed Kentucky men sweep 11-seed Alabama
AUBURN, Ala. - No. 5 Kentucky (22-4) put on a convincing display in the Cats' opening match at the SEC Tournament, defeating 11th-seeded Alabama (12-15), 4-0, on Friday morning at the Yarbrough Tennis Center on the campus of Auburn University.
"It's never easy to come into a tournament when the other team has been [playing] before," head coach Cedric Kauffmann said. "I thought we were a little tentative at first, but we opened up. We played pretty well by the end."
Kentucky was able to take the lead after fighting back to earn the doubles point. Alabama's Filip Planinsek and German Samofalov got the better of UK's Alafia Ayeni and Taha Baadi on the top court, but the Cats persisted to grabs wins from JJ Mercer and Joshua Lapadat at second doubles, and Liam Draxl and Jaden Weekes in the clincher.
UK continued to excel in singles, winning the first set on four of the six courts. Ayeni added a point for the team, overcoming No. 121 Enzo Aguiard, 6-4, 6-1 for his seventh-ranked win of the dual season. Weekes was impressive on court five, cruising to 6-2, 6-4 straight set victory against Bama's Zach Foster to bring the Wildcats within a point of the clinch.
It was Lapadat who would deal the final blow with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Matias Ponce de Leon at third singles. The victory was Lapadat's 18th singles win of the season, the most on the team.
"I thought that Alabama played a really good doubles point," Ayeni said. "They really pushed us. We stuck together, fought hard and earned that doubles point and carried the momentum into singles. I think it was just a team effort against a very inspired Alabama team."
Draxl, Baadi and Charlelie Cosnet all went unfinished in their singles matches. Baadi was the closest to the finish line at the time the win was clinched with the senior leading 4-1 in the deciding third set.
Court 1 - Planinsek/Samofalov (BAMA) def. No. 23 Ayeni/Baadi (UK): 6-3
Court 2 - No. 67 Lapadat/Mercer (UK) def. Aguiard/Foster (BAMA) : 6-4
Court 3 - Draxl/Weekes (UK) def. Sarouk/Ponce De Leon (BAMA): 7-5
Order of finish: 1, 2, 3
Court 1 - No. 19 Liam Draxl (UK) vs. No. 92 Filip Planinsek (BAMA) 5-7, 5-5 (unfinished)
Court 2 - No. 25 Alafia Ayeni (UK) def. No. 121 Enzo Aguiard (BAMA): 6-4, 6-1
Court 3 - No. 56 Joshua Lapadat (UK) def. Matias Ponce de Leon (BAMA): 6-4, 6-4
Court 4 - Taha Baadi (UK) vs. Roan Jones (BAMA): 6-3, 3-6, 4-1 (unfinished)
Court 5 - Jaden Weekes (UK) def. Zach Foster (BAMA): 6-2, 6-4
Court 6 - Charlelie Cosnet (UK) vs. Yair Sarouk (BAMA): 5-7, 4-3 (unfinished)
Order of finish: 2, 5, 3
With the win, the third-seeded Wildcats advance to tomorrow's semifinal round where they will meet either Tennessee or Ole Miss at 1 p.m. ET. The match will air on SECN+.