Men's Tennis
Wildcats Sweep SEC Weekly Awards, Jump to No. 11 in ITA Rankings

Wildcats Sweep SEC Weekly Awards, Jump to No. 11 in ITA Rankings

by Aliyah McDaniel

LEXINGTON, Ky. – After a pair of wins against in-state rival Louisville and two-time defending national champion, No. 3 Virginia, Kentucky men’s tennis swept this week’s SEC weekly awards and improved to No. 11 as a team in the latest ITA rankings, announced on Wednesday.

Kentucky is off to a 6-1 start to the season and leapt five spots from its previous ranking of No. 16. The Wildcats now sit behind only South Carolina (No. 4) and Tennessee (No. 7) in terms of conference opponents in the association’s latest poll.

Kentucky captain Taha Baadi was named SEC Player of the Week for wins over two ranked opponents this weekend against Louisville and Virginia, improving his record to 3-0 against top-30 ranked opponents this season. He started the weekend with a thrilling matchup against the Cardinals, defeating No. 16 Etienne Donnet, 6-3, 7-6 (5) before earning a three-set singles’ comeback win against No. 26 Jeffrey von der Schulenburg of Virginia, 5-7. 6-3, 7-5.

Louisville, Ky. native Eli Stephenson was named SEC Freshman of the Week in the conference’s second week of awards. It is the first of his collegiate career and comes after the first-year went undefeated over the weekend, picking up victories against his hometown school’s Piet Steveker in straight sets, and Virginia’s three-time NCAA Division III champion, James Hopper.

The freshman remained undefeated in his collegiate singles career, securing the clinching point for the Cats in their rematch of the 2023 NCAA Quarterfinals, helping lead them to their first win over a ranked opponent in 2024, and second-straight win over UVA in regular season play.

The first ITA singles and doubles rankings were also revealed on Wednesday, with Taha Baadi representing UK at No. 27  in the nation’s top-125 singles rankings, and the duo of seniors Joshua Lapadat and JJ Mercer sitting at No. 44 in the doubles rankings.

Kentucky returns to the court this weekend for a pair of contests against two top-20 teams, beginning with a home match against No. 8 Harvard at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex at 5 p.m. on Friday and ending with a road match at No. 15 Duke at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Sheffield Indoor Tennis Center in Durham, N.C.

For the latest on UK Men’s Tennis, follow the Wildcats on Twitter and Instagram at @UKMensTennis.

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