The No. 20 Wildcats (8-0 overall, 0-0 Southeastern Conference) improved the team’s winning streak to eight after caging the No. 14 Clemson Tigers (7-4, 1-0) in Lexington Sunday afternoon, 4-3. Freshman Caroline Lilley’s strong match play gave the Wildcats the upset over Clemson.
The Tigers had just come off their first conference win by defeating No. 4 Georgia Tech but Kentucky proved to be too much for the second year in a row. Last season, the Blue and White captured a 5-2 win in Clemson, S.C., over the top-20 team.
Doubles wins at courts one and two give the Wildcats the first lead of the day at 1-0. Senior Carolina Escamilla and freshman partner Lilley teamed up for the top spot on court one against the nation’s No. 27 duo of Josipa Bek and Ina Hadziselimovic. The Wildcat pair toppled the Tigers took the lead early and never looked back, securing the win, 8-3. Clemson grabbed an 8-5 decision on court three but UK’s Megan Broderick and Christine Johnston clinched the doubles with an 8-3 victory on court two over Laurianne Henry and Kerri Wong.
Kentucky went into singles with a 2-0 lead after Clemson defaulted on court six.
Grabbing the third point out of Clemson’s grasp was junior Whitney Spencer on court four. Spencer started the first set down, 5-1, but made a valiant comeback effort for the 7-6 win. In the second set Spencer wouldn’t leave anything behind, jumping out front to take a 6-2 win.
Clemson was able to get on the board after No. 114 Kerri Wong handed Johnston her first loss of the season. The Wildcat got the first set, 6-1, but was unable to stay ahead as Wong took the next two sets, 6-2, 6-2.
The Tigers then took court one from Escamilla and the Cats. The Kentucky senior went up in the first set 6-1, but dropped the second, 6-2, to No. 15 Bek. After Escamilla led most of the first set, Bek rallied back to grab a close 7-5, third set for Clemson’s second point.
Broderick, who is nationally ranked at No. 86, fell in a three-set defeat to Clemson’s Hadziselimovic. The Wildcat owned the first set, 6-2, but fell in a tie-break second set, 7-6, and then couldn’t hold on in the third, dropping the set, 6-4.
Tied at 3-3, the match had to be decided by court five. Lilley took the first set, 6-2, against Alexandra Luc. With the pressure on, Lilley just hammered the ball through the second set to defeat Luc, 6-2, and clinch the match for the Wildcats for the third time this season.
Lilley and Spencer each remain undefeated in dual-match play with seven and six wins, respectively.
The Wildcats have three home matches remaining until they hit the road for two weeks. The Cats will begin conference play by hosting Florida on Friday at 1 p.m. ET, March 6 and South Carolina Sunday, March 8 at noon ET.
#20 Kentucky 4, #14 Clemson, 3
1. Escamilla/Lilley (UK) def. #27 Bek/Hadziselimovic (CU), 8-3
2. Broderick/Johnston (UK) def. Henry/Wong (CU), 8-3
3. Mijacika/Luc (CU) def. Spencer/Pienaar (UK), 8-5
1. #15 Josipa Bek (CU) def. Carolina Escamilla (UK), 1-6, 6-2, 7-5
2. Ina Hadziselimovic (CU) def. #86 Megan Broderick (UK), 2-6, 7-6, 6-4
3. Kerri Wong (CU) def. Christine Johnston (UK), 1-6, 6-2, 6-2
4. Whitney Spencer (UK) def. Alexandra Luc (CU), 7-6, 6-2
5. Caroline Lilley (UK) def. Laurianne Henry (CU), 6-2, 6-2
6. Sarah Woestmann (UK) won by default
Order of Finish:
Singles: 6, 4, 3, 1, 2, 5*
Doubles: 1, 3, 2