History has been made for the Kentucky Wildcats tennis program, as they defeated top-seeded TCU in Thursday’s NCAA Tournament action, advancing to the first Final Four in program history.
GABRIEL DIALLO SENDS KENTUCKY TO ITS FIRST FINAL FOUR IN PROGRAM HISTORY! Wildcats take down No. 1 TCU!!!— Kentucky Men's Tennis (@UKMensTennis) May 19, 2022
UK 4 | TCU 3 pic.twitter.com/RCSDwwR722
The match came down to a Court 2 clash between No. 21 Gabriel Diallo and No. 16 Juan Carlos Aguilar. The Kentucky junior came away victorious in a 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 result.
“I had an idea that it was going to come down to me,” said Diallo in a press release. “I was just trying to focus on my service game. I was mostly just trying to win every point in my service game, and it made me loose on my returning game. Obviously, I was nervous, but I feel like hearing these guys cheering for me, the nerves kind of go away.”
Head coach Cedric Kauffmann guided Kentucky to its first Final Four in his 10th year on the job since becoming the program’s leader in 2012 following the retirement of 30-year head coach Dennis Emery. Kauffmann was an All-American player at Kentucky in the 90s and later became an assistant under Emery.
“I just think they love each other. I do,” said Kauffmann in a press release. “I think they’re just brothers. We always say to them, ‘We want you guys to be good teammates to each other,’ but I think they’re brothers. I think that’s what is going to push us through this tournament.”
The 8-seeded Wildcats entered the day at 24-7 overall and playing in just their fifth Elite Eight in school history after a 4-2 win over 9-seeded Wake Forest last Saturday in Lexington. Their last Elite Eight appearance in 2011 saw the Wildcats fall to eventual champion USC in a 4-1 decision.
Today’s game took place in Champaign, Illinois at the Atkins Tennis Complex. TCU came into the day at 24-6 overall, 7-0 on the road and 4-0 in neutral-site games, but Kentucky did just enough to pull off a history-making 4-3 decision.
1. #4 Liam Draxl (UK) def. #12 Luc Fomba (TCU) 6-3, 6-4
2. #21 Gabriel Diallo (UK) def. #16 Juan Carlos Aguilar (TCU) 3-6, 6-2, 6-4
3. #83 Millen Hurrion (UK) def. #72 Sander Jong (TCU) 6-3, 6-4
4. Francois Musitelli (UK) def. #95 Jake Fearnley (TCU) 6-4, 4-6, 6-4
5. Pedro Vives (TCU) def. #113 Joshua Lapadat (UK) 7-5, 6-3
6. Tomas Jirousek (TCU) def. JJ Mercer (UK) 6-1, 6-1
Order of finish: 1, 6, 3, 5, 4, 2*
1. #1 Luc Fomba/Jake Fearnley (TCU) vs. #55 Millen Hurrion/Francois Musitelli (UK) 3-5, unfinished
2. #10 Sander Jong/Lui Maxted (TCU) def. Gabriel Diallo/Joshua Lapadat (UK) 6-3
3. Juan Carlos Aguilar/Pedro Vives (TCU) def. Liam Draxl/Alexandre LeBlanc (UK) 6-3
Order of finish: 2, 3*
@UKMensTennis is #FinalFour bound for the first time in program history! #NCAAMTEN #BBN #WeAreUK pic.twitter.com/VhE6rx4dMo— Kentucky Athletics (@UKAthletics) May 19, 2022
FINAL FOUR BOUND #UKRising pic.twitter.com/At1Too40zV— Kentucky Men's Tennis (@UKMensTennis) May 19, 2022
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