Big Blue upset: Kentucky men’s tennis takes down No. 1 Virginia in NCAA finals rematch

UK Athletics file photo

The Kentucky men’s tennis team took care of business in a big way on Friday evening.

In a rematch of the 2022 NCAA national championship finals, fifth-ranked UK (7-0) edged top-ranked Virginia 4-3 at the Boar’s Head Sports Center in Charlottesville. It was the first loss of the season for the defending champion Cavaliers (6-1).

Taha Baadi clinched the match for Kentucky by winning a third-set tiebreaker against Ryan Goetz.

“Congrats to the Wildcats,” Virginia head coach Andres Pedroso said. “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.”

The Wildcats got off to a hot start, earning the doubles point behind the No. 3 pairing in the nation, Joshua Lapadat and JJ Mercer. The duo is 4-0 this season.

In singles, Virginia took the first set on the top four courts. But freshman Charlelie Cosnet, in his first road match of his college career, earned the first singles point of the evening. He defeated Virginia’s Alexander Kiefer 7-6 (5), 6–3, to give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead.

The Cavaliers rebounded strongly, taking the lead with wins by Inaki Montes, Jeffrey von der Schulenburg and Douglas Yaffa.

Kentucky’s Jaden Weekes went toe-to-toe with fellow freshman Mans Dahlberg and came out on top 2-6, 7-5, 6-1.

“Playing in my first away match everything was kind of new to me,” Weekes said. “I was nervous and it showed in the doubles and at the start of singles, but I’m very happy that I was able to turn it around.”

Then Baadi prevailed against Goetz 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (4).

“It was meant to be,” Baadi said. “Everyone on this team works so hard. I know for a fact that we are the hardest working team in the country. Nights like this just prove that when you work hard and do everything the right way, the universe is very giving.”

The Wildcats’ victory stopped a 29-match win streak the Cavaliers had been building since February 2022. UK also ended a three-match losing streak to the Cavaliers that began in 2018.

UK will next face Virginia Tech at 11 a.m. Sunday in Blacksburg, Va.