Men’s Tennis Totals Four ITA Regional Award Winners
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) announced its 2023 Division I Men’s Regional Awards on Tuesday, naming four Kentucky Wildcats as recipients in the Ohio Valley Region for their excellence on the court and in the communities throughout the season.
Cedric Kauffmann (Coach of the Year), Matthew Gordon (Assistant Coach of the Year), Liam Draxl (Senior Player of the Year) and Joshua Lapadat (Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship) were each recognized as award winners, with the Wildcats claiming four of the region’s six individual awards.
After leading Kentucky to a 27-5 record, an appearance in the semifinals at ITA Indoors, an SEC Tournament Championship and the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Tournament, Kauffmann was named the Ohio Valley Wilson/ITA Coach of the Year for the second time in his coaching career (2016). During his 11 years at the helm in the Bluegrass, Kauffmann has a career record of 208-114 (.646) and has coached the Cats to nine NCAA Tournament appearances. During the 2023 season, the Wildcats climbed as high as No. 2 in the ITA team rankings and ultimately finished the year at No. 5, their highest end of year ranking during the Kauffmann era.
Gordon, who just completed his fifth season at Kentucky, was named the Ohio Valley Assistant Coach of the Year for the third consecutive season. He is the first Kentucky assistant to win the award multiple times. The Cats have reached the NCAA Tournament in each of Gordon’s five seasons and have accumulated an overall record of 100-41 (.709). Gordon has worked with four ITA All-Americans in Lexington, including two this season in Draxl and Alafia Ayeni.
Since the ITA began conferring regional awards in 2001, this marks the first season in which Kentucky has been awarded both Coach of the Year and Assistant Coach of the Year.
Joining the coaching staff, Draxl was named Kentucky’s first Ohio Valley Senior Player of the Year in nearly a decade. The UK captain, and 2021 ITA National Player of the Year, finished his senior campaign with a singles record of 19-8, including a 17-8 mark at first singles. Draxl ended the year as the 11th ranked player in the ITA Singles Rankings and reached the Round of 16 at the NCAA Singles Tournament. He was dubbed an ITA All-American in singles for the third-consecutive season, making him just the fourth player in program history to achieve the feat. In doubles, Draxl combined to a record of 20-8, giving him a team-best 39 wins this season between singles and doubles. The last Wildcat to be named Ohio Valley Senior Player of the Year was Tom Jomby back in 2014.
Rounding out Kentucky’s awardees, Lapadat received the Ohio Valley Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship Award, given to the men’s and women’s student-athletes who have exhibited outstanding sportsmanship and leadership, as well as scholastic, extracurricular and tennis achievements in ways that embody the legacy of tennis icon and humanitarian, Arthur Ashe Jr. Lapadat put on a tremendous junior season, which included a team-best singles record of 23-4. His outstanding year saw him recognized on the ITA Indoor Nationals All-Tournament Team and as the MVP of the SEC Tournament. At the 2023 conference tournament, Lapadat posted a combined record of 5-0 to help lead UK to its second-ever title. A native of Ontario, Canada, Lapadat qualified for his first NCAA Singles Championship, where he advanced to the round of 32, and finished the season ranked No. 38 in the ITA Singles Rankings. He becomes the third regional winner of the Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award in program history, joining Gabriel Diallo (2022) and Eric Quigley (2012).
The 2023 ITA national award winners will be announced next Monday, June 12.