In the battle of the Wildcats, the Arizona men's tennis team defeated Kentucky by a match score of 4-2 to advance to the program's first ever Sweet Sixteen appearance in the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
Arizona picked up the coveted doubles point to take an early 1-0 lead. Jonas Ziverts and Herman Hoeyeraal cleaned up their doubles match by a set score of 6-4 before Carlos Hassey and Alejandro Reguant won their set 6-4 as well to clinch the doubles point. They defeated Kentucky's Gabriel Diallo and Cesar Bourgois, who were the No. 6 doubles team in the country entering this tournament per ITA.
This win made history for Reguant as he became the all-time winningest player in program history, overtaking Arizona legend Roger Matalonga who was the previous record holder.
After Filip Malbasic fell in straight sets in his singles match on court three, Carlos Hassey picked him up with a straight set win of his own on court six to give Arizona a 2-1 lead. Hoeyeraal then won his match in gritty fashion on court four in three sets, giving the 'Cats a 3-1 lead, bringing them one point away from winning the match.
After taking the first set 6-3 over Kentucky's Liam Draxl who was the No. 1 ranked singles player in the country entering this tournament according to ITA, Gustaf Strom fell 6-4 in the second set before losing 6-1 in the final set to bring the match score to 3-2. Strom was extremely unlucky, losing multiple points on calls that were overturned by the chair umpire in that deciding third set.
This led to the match coming down to Jonas Ziverts on court two and Reguant on court five, who both found themselves in three set battles.
Ziverts lost the first set in his match in a very tough fashion, falling 8-6 in a tiebreaker. He bounced back quickly against Diallo of Kentucky who was the No. 14 ranked singles player in the country entering this tournament per ITA, forcing a third set after taking the second set in quick fashion by a score of 6-1.
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Over on court five, it was a similar deal for Reguant as he fell 6-4 in the first set before quickly winning the second set by a score of 6-1 as well.
Ziverts picked up a pivotal break of serve to open up the third set, which wound up deciding his match. He was serving up a break at 2-1 when he fell down 0-40. It looked like Diallo was going to get the break back, but Ziverts picked up four straight huge points to maintain the hold and go up 3-1 in the set.
Ziverts and Reguant were going back-and-forth in the third set of their respective matches, as Reguant forced a tiebreaker in his match when Ziverts clinched the match victory for Arizona.
"What a day, what a day," head coach Clancy Shields said on Twitter. "So proud to be with our fifth-year senior [Reguant], beating Kentucky on their home courts [to] show who the true Wildcats are. 4-2, an incredible battle, but I'll tell you what. This team has got the biggest heart I've ever seen. When I look at this team, I see hours and hours of hard work, especially [Reguant]. It is an incredible journey. I love this team to death."
After it seemed like the regular seasons wins over USC and UCLA were the biggest wins in program history, this one takes the cake, and they have a chance to keep this run going as the 'Cats face the winner of the Tennessee/Memphis round two match in the Sweet Sixteen. This match is set for Monday, May 17.
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