No. 10 Kentucky Meets Illinois on Saturday
URBANA, Ill. – No. 10 Kentucky men’s tennis (2-0, 0-0 SEC) makes its first road trip of the season as the Wildcats journey to face Illinois (0-0, 0-0 Big Ten) this Saturday for a 6 p.m. match at the Atkins Tennis Center.
The Wildcats began the 2024 campaign by sweeping a doubleheader vs. Northern Kentucky and EKU at home this past Monday. Graduate JJ Mercer and freshman Matt Rankin led UK, each posting four wins as Kentucky rolled to 7-0 results against both in-state foes.
Illinois kicks off their 2024 season by hosting Toledo at 12 p.m. on Saturday before taking on the Wildcats in the second leg of the doubleheader. The Fighting Illini finished last season with a 19-11 record while going 6-3 in Big Ten play. The team earned a bid to the 2023 NCAA Tournament, where they lost in the opening round, 4-3, to Arizona State.
Key returners for Illinois include two All-Big Ten First Team selections: Hunter Heck and Karlis Ozolins, along with Second-Team honoree, Alex Petrov.
Saturday’s match will mark the second-consecutive season in which the Cats and the Fighting Illini have squared-off. Kentucky registered a 4-1 win over Illinois at the Boone Tennis Center last January, winning the doubles’ point and tallying results at first, third and fourth singles. Joshua Lapadat and Taha Baadi, who each won singles’ matches against the Illini last year, are back in the blue and white again this season.