Photo : Manuela Davies
Canada’s Liam Draxl made it to the semi-final in his first-ever NCAA Division I Championship run.
Draxl, a sophomore at the University of Kentucky, played a hard-fought match – but in the end, fell short to Sam Riffice from the University of Florida.
The semi-final match didn’t start how Draxl would’ve hoped against the singles tournament’s No. 6 seed. Draxl committed back-to-back double faults in his first service game and gave Riffice two chances at an early break – which Riffice successfully converted.
Draxl struck back and broke the No. 6 seed in the sixth game. The pair then exchanged breaks in the seventh and 10th games to send the first set to a tiebreak. It was a nail-biter, but the Gator prevailed and took the opening set 7-6(5).
In the second set, Draxl came out blazing and made several remarkable forehand winners to secure the set 6-2. However, it wouldn’t be enough as Riffice answered the bell in the third set and won the match 7-6 (5), 2-6, 6-1.
The Newmarket, Ontario, native took over the No. 1 seed of the ITA Division I rankings on April 14, 2021, and up until today, held a perfect 6-0 record while sitting at the top of the leaderboard. His record sits at 25-3 in his first full collegiate season.
Draxl, who is only 19-years-old, will be back next year eager for another shot at the NCAA Division I Tennis Championship title.