No. 6 South Carolina Upsets No. 5 Kentucky in Lexington
Lexington, Ky. – No. 6 South Carolina took down No. 5 Kentucky on the Wildcats’ home courts 4-3 on Thursday evening. The Gamecocks took the doubles points and secured three singles wins for the upset victory.
South Carolina was dominant in doubles. The first win of the day came on Court 2 where James Story and Jake Beasley took on No. 43 Joshua Lapadat and JJ Mercer. The Gamecock duo got off to a hot start, going up 5-0 before their counterparts got on the board. The ranked pair tried to make a comeback, finally taking their own service game and a break, but Beasley and Story took the break back to complete the match 6-2
The doubles point was fittingly clinched by the nation’s No. 1 pair of Connor Thomson and Toby Samuel. From the top spot in the lineup, the pair was dead even with their opponents Taha Baadi and Alafia Ayeni. The Wildcasts had first serve and neither team was giving up their service games, that is, until the set was tied at 4-4. On Kentucky’s serve, Thomson and Samuel finally earned a break and were able to serve out their match 6-4 to clinch the doubles point.
Play transitioned to singles where Kentucky was quick to even the overall match score at 1-1 with a win from the top of the singles lineup. No. 27 Liam Draxl defeated No. 7 Samuel 6-2, 6-2.
Story was able to give the Gamecocks the lead back with his win from Court 4. The junior earned a straight sets upset over No. 100 Baadi, 7-5, 7-5. Story broke Baadi’s perfect 9-0 dual singles record.
Kentucky was again quick to even the score with a win on Court 3. No. 23 Lapadat defeated No. 80 Raphael Lambling 6-4, 6-3 to tie the overall match at 2-2.
Thomson was the next Gamecock to get a singles win. He had a gritty first set in which he initially fell 1-4, but made a miraculous comeback to take the set at 6-4. In the second set, No. 7 Thomson and his opponent, No. 31 Ayeni were even until Thomson was able to get a break to go up 5-4. Thomson served on match point, but Ayeni was able to claw his way back up from down 15-40 to tie the set at 5-5 and again at 6-6. From there, the set went to a tiebreaker.
In the tiebreaker, the Wildcat appeared to have the upper-hand, going up 3-5, but Thomson was not deterred. He fought back to tie at 5-5, but Ayeni had the end of the set in sight after going up 6-5. Thomson again tied it at 6-6, but Ayeni took it to 7-6. Thomson tied again at 7-7, but Ayeni pushed it to 8-7. The Gamecock was finally able to get the much needed break after 8-8 to take the tiebreaker 10-8, saving set point on three separate occasions.
The final two matches on were both on their way to third sets. On Court 5, No. 90 Casey Hoole took his first set 7-5, but gave up the second 4-6. His opponent rallied to take the third set 6-3 for the win to even the overall match at 3-3.
The match decision came down to Court 6 where Beasley was fighting to comeback against No. 102 Charlelie Cosnet. The Wildcat took the first set 7-5 and was on his way to closing out the match in the second set, but the Gamecock forced a tiebreaker. Cosnet went up early in the tiebreaker 3-2 and appeared to have the match in the bag, but Beasley battled back, taking three straight points after 4-4 to win the tiebreaker 7-6(4).
The final set was all Beasley with the Gamecock earning a break on Cosnet’s second service game to earn a 3-1 lead. From there, the graduate cruised through the match to close out the final set 6-3.
This win marks South Carolina’s first win in Lexington since 2000 and the first win at the home of the Wildcats under head coach Josh Goffi.
The men’s tennis team will stay on the road for the SEC opening weekend, stopping in Nashville to take on Vanderbilt on Saturday, March 4 at noon.
For all the latest South Carolina men’s tennis information, continue to follow GamecocksOnline.com or the team on social media (@GamecockMTennis).
(6) South Carolina 4, (5) Kentucky 3
Doubles (order of finish: 2, 1)
- #1 Toby Samuel/Connor Thomson (SC) def. Alafia Ayeni/Taha Baadi (UK) 6-4
- Jake Beasley/James Story (SC) def. #43 Joshua Lapadat/JJ Mercer (UK) 6-2
- Raphael Lambling/Casey Hoole (SC) vs. Liam Draxl/Jaden Weekes (UK) 5-4, unfinished
Singles (order of finish: 1, 4, 3, 2, 5, 6)
- #27 Liam Draxl (UK) def. #6 Toby Samuel (SC) 6-2, 6-2
- #7 Connor Thomson (SC) def. #31 Alafia Ayeni (UK) 6-4, 7-6 (10-8)
- #23 Joshua Lapadat (UK) def. #80 Raphael Lambling (SC) 6-4, 6-3
- James Story (SC) def. #100 Taha Baadi (UK) 7-5, 7-5
- Jaden Weekes (UK) def. #90 Casey Hoole (SC) 5-7, 6-4, 6-3
- Jake Beasley (SC) def. #102 Charlelie Cosnet (UK) 5-7, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3