Men’s Tennis: Fifth-seeded Hoos knock off No. 4 Kentucky, 4-2, to move on to NCAA semis

Courtesy UVA Media Relations

Photo: UVA Athletics

The Virginia men’s tennis team defeated Kentucky by a 4-2 score in the quarterfinals of the 2023 NCAA Men’s Tennis Team Championship at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla., in a match that began on Thursday and ended on Friday.

Virginia (28-4) lost the doubles point on Thursday night but won the first three singles matches on Friday to take a 3-1 lead. Freshman Måns Dahlberg won the clinching point by taking a tiebreaker to decide the third set on Court 6.

Virginia will face top-seeded Texas (26-3) on Saturday at noon in the semifinals.

The match began on Thursday night with Kentucky (27-5) battling to take a doubles point that lasted one hour and eight minutes. The Wildcats won a tiebreaker on court one 11-9 to take the 1-0 lead.

Twenty minutes into singles play, the match went into a lightning delay as a thunderstorm moved into the area. Torrential rains drenched the courts and after a nearly three hour delay, the match was suspended with a restart time of  10 a.m. Friday morning.

“I didn’t need to do any refocusing as the head coach [after Friday night’s rain delay],” said Andres Pedroso. “The players know what this tournament is all about. We’ve been here before. They have their routines. They know how to bounce back from losing a doubles point, from rain delays. Whatever it is, these guys have been through it all. So it’s all about them. They’re ready and they’re prepared for whatever comes.”

The Cavaliers came out firing on Friday morning. Jeffrey von der Schulenburg, who was down 3-0 on Thursday night against Joshua Lapadat, came back to win his first set 7-5, one of four first sets won by the Cavaliers.

Alex Kiefer, who had a 4-0 lead in his match before the delay, closed out his first set 6-4 against Jaden Weekes on court five and then took his second 6-3 to tie the match at 1-1.

Chris Rodesch picked up his 12th-straight singles victory with a straight-set win against No. 13 Liam Draxl on the top court. Their match was halted late in the second set when the court they were competing on became unplayable. They slid over to vacated court five and Rodesch closed out the victory to put the Cavaliers in the lead 2-1.

Ryan Goetz downed Taha Baadi 6-4, 6-2 on court four to give UVA a 3-1 lead.

The other three courts all split sets and headed to a third.

No. 18 Alafia Ayeni won a tight 7-6 (2), 1-6, 6-3 victory on court two to give Kentucky its second point.

Dahlberg had lost his first set 6-3 against Charlelie Cosnet, but rebounded by winning 6-4 in the second set to force a third. He came back from down a break against Cosnet with to have the final set locked at 6-6 to force a tiebreaker. Dahlberg won the breaker 7-3 to clinch the victory.

Von der Schulenburg and Lapadat were on serve 6-5 on court three when play was halted.

The victory extends the Cavaliers’ win streak to 20 matches.

Virginia defeated Kentucky 4-0 last season in the NCAA Championship final as the Cavaliers won their fifth title in 10 years.

Virginia has advanced to the semifinals in 12 of the past 16 tournaments and has played in seven of the last 11 finals.

Due to Thursday night’s rainout, the tournament’s schedule was pushed back a full day. The semifinals originally scheduled for Friday will be played on Saturday and the championship will take place on Sunday, May 21, which was originally slated to be an off day between the team tournament and individual championships.


1. #9 Chris Rodesch (VA) def. #13 Liam Draxl (UK) 6-4, 6-3
2. #18 Alafia Ayeni (UK) def. #26 Iñaki Montes (VA) 7-6 (7-2), 1-6, 6-3
3. Jeffrey von der Schulenburg (VA) vs. Joshua Lapadat (UK) 7-5, 4-6, 5-6, unfinished
4. #87 Ryan Goetz (VA) def. Taha Baadi (UK) 6-4, 6-2
5. Alexander Kiefer (VA) def. Jaden Weekes (UK) 6-4, 6-3
6. Måns Dahlberg (VA) def. Charlelie Cosnet (UK) 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3)

1. #28 Taha Baadi/Alafia Ayeni (UK) def. #58 Iñaki Montes/William Woodall (VA) 7-6 (11-9)
2. Chris Rodesch/Jeffrey von der Schulenburg (VA) def. #67 JJ Mercer/Joshua Lapadat (UK) 7-5
3. Liam Draxl/Jaden Weekes (UK) def. Alexander Kiefer/Måns Dahlberg (VA) 6-3
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2,1); Singles (5,1,4,2,6)