UK men’s tennis continues unbeaten run against Louisville
At the varsity level, the Kentucky men’s tennis program still has never lost to Louisville.
The remarkable winning streak for the Wildcats against their in-state rival continued Friday evening inside the Hilary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Complex in Lexington, as UK recorded a 4-0 sweep victory over the Cardinals.
The result improved UK to 27-0 against Louisville since the Cardinals men’s tennis program reached varsity status in 1982.
Friday was the first time in more than a decade that Louisville traveled to Lexington for a match. It was also the first time since 2005 the two schools had a regular-season match in Lexington.
“It’s never easy to play an in-state rival, it can be a little uncomfortable, and I think there were some good moments that we learned from where our guys had to push through a little bit,” Kentucky men’s tennis coach Cedric Kauffmann told the Herald-Leader.
UK won the doubles point after victories from the pairings of sophomores JJ Mercer and Joshua Lapadat, and graduate student Francois Musitelli and sophomore Yasha Zemel.
In singles, the Wildcats won three matches to claim the outright victory.
The singles triumphs came courtesy of junior Liam Draxl, fifth-year Millen Hurrion and Musitelli.
Last year as a sophomore, Draxl was named the Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Player of the Year, becoming the first UK player to receive the honor. He reached the singles semifinals at the NCAA championships.
In December, Draxl won his first professional singles tennis title by winning the M15 Cancun tournament in Mexico as part of the International Tennis Federation World Tennis Tour.
On Friday, Draxl lost the first set of his singles match 6-0 to Louisville junior Etienne Donnet. But while feeding off and engaging with a large crowd inside the Boone Complex, Draxl recovered to win the final two sets, 6-3 and 6-2.
“I’m not ashamed to say that I came out really nervous today and I wasn’t playing well at all,” Draxl said, noting that he adjusted his positioning and moved further back after the first set to better deal with Donnet’s heavy and high shots.
After breaking his opponent’s serve for the decisive lead change in the final set, Draxl bounded around the court screaming, “It’s all heart out here!”
“What Liam does really well is he can not worry too much and keep competing and change one or two things, and that’s what he did,” Kauffman said. “I don’t know if he’s our image, but he’s a big presence … he’s entertaining.”
“I’m just trying to put on a show,” Draxl said of his mindset in front of the fans. “When people turn up and they’re making some noise when I’m winning points, I just feed off of it. It just enhances the whole intensity and the loudness and the screaming. I thrive in it.”
First singles point of the match goes to Kentucky’s Liam Draxl, who reached the singles semifinals at last year’s NCAA Championships. pic.twitter.com/3GoQ42fbD0
Kentucky is now 44-3-1 all-time against the Cardinals, with the first match between the schools occurring in 1925.
UK also took down another in-state opponent this weekend with a 4-0 sweep win on Saturday at Northern Kentucky.
Kentucky is now 4-0 on the season and ranked No. 11 in the country in the ITA Top 25 coaches poll.
UK sets pool records in loss to U of L
Both the Kentucky men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams suffered defeats to Louisville this weekend in the annual Battle of the Bluegrass.
While UK broke three pool records at the Ralph Wright Natatorium in Louisville, the women lost 174-126 to the Cardinals and the men lost 208.5-88.5.
Junior Caitlin Brooks (women’s 100-yard backstroke), senior Riley Gaines (women’s 200-yard freestyle) and senior Sophie Sorenson (women’s 200-yard backstroke) were the three UK swimmers who set new pool records at the meet.
Louisville sweeps weekend hockey series against UK
The Kentucky and Louisville men’s ice hockey teams — which are club sports at both schools — played a home-and-home series this weekend.
The first game in Lexington started just past midnight Saturday morning and was won by Louisville, 7-5.
Saturday night’s return game in Louisville went to overtime and was won by the Cardinals, 5-4.
UK and U of L meetings this school year
For those keeping track, here’s a look at how each Kentucky and Louisville athletics matchup has played out this academic year.
Cross country: At the NCAA Southeast Regional in November in Louisville, the Kentucky women’s cross country team finished third while the Louisville women’s cross country team finished 23rd. At the same event, the Kentucky men’s cross country team finished ninth while the Louisville men’s cross country team finished 13th.
Football: Kentucky defeated Louisville 52-21 on Nov. 27 at Louisville.
Hockey: Louisville defeated Kentucky twice in this weekend’s home-and-home series.
Men’s soccer: Kentucky defeated Louisville 3-1 on Sept. 7 at Louisville.
Men’s tennis: On Friday, Kentucky recorded a 4-0 sweep victory over Louisville at the Hilary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Complex in Lexington. UK is now 27-0 against Louisville since the Cardinals men’s tennis program reached varsity status in 1982.
Swimming and diving: On Saturday, both the Kentucky men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams were defeated by Louisville in the annual Battle of the Bluegrass at Louisville. The Louisville women defeated the UK women 174-126 and the U of L men defeated the UK men 208.5-88.5.
Track and field: On Dec. 11, members of the Kentucky and Louisville track and field teams, along with competitors from other schools, competed in the Cardinal Classic in Louisville. The meet featured 33 indoor events. UK athletes won 20 events. Louisville athletes won nine events.
Women’s basketball: Louisville defeated Kentucky 64-58 on Dec. 12 at Louisville.
Women’s golf: Kentucky and Louisville played to a 4-4 match play tie last week in Florida. Because Louisville won the most recent head-to-head meeting between the schools in 2019, Louisville will retain the Battle of the Bluegrass cup.
Volleyball: Louisville defeated Kentucky 3-2 on Sept. 15 at Louisville.
Cameron Drummond works as a sports reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader with a focus on the University of Kentucky women’s basketball program, in addition to other college, high school and professional sports in the area. Drummond is a first-generation American who was born and raised in Texas, before graduating from Indiana University in 2020. He is a fluent Spanish speaker who previously worked as a community news reporter for the Austin American-Statesman newspaper in Austin, Texas.