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It ended earlier than anyone expected it would end. On Friday, the No. 1 TCU men’s tennis team (26-5) played their quarterfinal match against a formidable No. 8 Kentucky team. The Horned Frogs lost 4-3 in Champaign, Illinois, ending their dream season.

TCU had a record-setting year. The 26 victories tied a program record. In February, they won the ITA Indoor National Championship. And they swept the Big 12 in regular-season play to win that championship. In the first three rounds of the NCAA Tournament, they swept their opponents to make it to the Elite Eight.

Like they had most of the season, the Frogs started strong and won the doubles point. Sander Jong and Luis Maxted, playing at No. 2, earned a late break and were able to win their set 6-3. They finished the tournament at 3-0 while outscoring opponents 18-9 in the completed matches. Juan Carlos Aguilar and Pedro Vives, playing at No. 3, also won their set 6-3, clinching the point for TCU. This pair went 5-0 in the postseason. Luc Fomba and Jake Fearnley, at No. 1, were down 3-5 in their set when the point was won. TCU ended the year winning 26 of their 31 doubles points and 56-16 in doubles matches.

The team struggled early in the singles matches. TCU won three of the first sets, but it was the three first sets that Kentucky won that became problematic for the Frogs. Fomba, at No. 1, quickly lost in straight sets 3-6, 4-6, giving Kentucky their first point. Tomas Jirousek, playing at No. 6, had no problem in his match, winning in straight sets 6-1, 6-1, and putting the Frogs up 2-1. Jirousek won all seven of his return games.

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Jong also lost in straight sets at No. 3, 3-6, 4-6. Though he lost, Jong ended the season 21-5, which gave him the 10th highest winning percentage in program history with a minimum of 20 wins. On Court No. 4, Fearnley lost the first set 6-4 but won the second set 6-4, forcing the third set. He lost that 6-4, which put Kentucky up 2-3. Vives, playing at No. 5, won in straight sets, 7-5, 6-3, tying the dual at 3-3. Vives beat a player who had gone 11-0 in SEC play. It all came down to Aguilar at court No. 2. He won his first set 6-3 but lost the second set 2-6, forcing the decisive third set. UK got a late break in that third set and won 6-4, clinching the quarterfinal win for the Wildcats.

No. 2 Florida and No. 3 Baylor also lost their quarterfinal matches. Saturday’s semifinals will be No 4 Ohio State versus No. 8 Kentucky and No. 6 Tennessee versus No. 7 Virginia.

"Disappointing loss," said head coach David Roditi after the dual. "Full credit to Kentucky, they played unbelievably well. At this level, in the NCAA Quarterfinals, you have to play so well. We weren’t solid enough to get the win. We did a great job in doubles and 5 and 6 but it’s such a fine line between winning and losing at this level. That’s why winning a National Championship is so special. You have to do so many things right for so many matches in a row and we didn’t do that today. We didn’t play well enough to deserve it today. I’m super proud of our guys. I’m bummed for them. They did such a great job all season and really had just an incredible year. But we lost today, the season is over and that’s depressing. I’m sure at some point we’ll look back and be proud of what we accomplished. I want to thank TCU for giving us more than enough support for us to be here, the way we traveled, everything. I’m so grateful for TCU and our fans that support us so well, win or lose. I’m sorry we couldn’t get it done for our fans, our administration and our school. Go Frogs!”

Next up: Team play ends for TCU. Three members of the squad will remain in Champaign for the NCAA Individual National Championships. Fomba and Aguilar will both compete in the singles event. Fomba and Fearnley will compete in the doubles event. These matches begin Monday, May 23. The draw has yet to be announced.

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