Men's Tennis
Tennis Cats Taking '50-50' Attitude Into Saturday Match Against Harvard

Tennis Cats Taking '50-50' Attitude Into Saturday Match Against Harvard

by Tim Letcher

The Kentucky men’s tennis team will face a familiar face this weekend when Harvard comes to Lexington to face the Cats in the Sweet 16 of the 2024 NCAA Men’s Tennis Tournament. The teams met, in Lexington, on Feb. 9, a match that Kentucky won 5-2.

While the Cats can draw on that result as they face the Crimson again on Saturday, UK head coach Cedric Kauffmann knows that Harvard can use the February result to their advantage as well.

“I think it’s important but I it’s important for them, too that they have played us,” Kauffmann said. “There’s good things and bad things. I think they are starting to be comfortable with Lexington and they’re probably staying in the same hotel and eating at the restaurants they want to. We know their players and they know ours. So, it’s going to be a few adjustments here and there and we’re going to have to be a little smarter than them, which is not easy to do.”

Senior Josh Lapadat likes the advantage that playing in front of a home crowd can bring to the Cats, in addition to the earlier win over Harvard.

“It makes a big difference to have it at home,” Lapadat said. “Also, getting the win against them earlier in the season gave us a bit of an advantage going into this one. But yeah, the home advantage is huge. The crowd helps a lot for sure.”

Freshman Jack Loutit knows that being at home is important, but he also knows that Harvard will bring their best in the postseason.

“It’s a huge advantage that we’ve already played them at home,” Loutit said. “I think everyone on the team knows what to expect from this team. Obviously, it’s the NCAAs, so every team fights a little bit harder but I think the whole team and I should be prepared for this match. Sleeping in your own bed is a huge advantage, than going on the road. Home crowd as well.”

One of the things that Kauffmann has instilled in his team, which has led to great success this season, is that each match is 50-50. The UK head coach believes that taking that mindset into each match is very important.

“When I tell them that it’s 50-50, every match that we play, they understand to respect that person and they understand that they have to do something to make sure they have a chance to win,” Kauffmann said. “And those adjustments are usually working hard, having a great week to prepare for that. And if we can do that, we can tip that scale our win and we can win that match.”

Lapadat echoed his coach’s sentiments as the Cats prepare for the Crimson.

“Harvard’s another great team. Every match is 50-50,” Lapadat said. “Every team is very good, they all deserve to be here. We know the Harvard team, we played them earlier this year. They’re very good. We’ll see what we can do.”

When asked if his message to his team changes in the postseason, Kauffmann had a simple answer.

“We’ve prepared the same way for everybody. We respect everybody but we fear no one,” he said. “We know we’re very tough, we’re very tough to put away. We’re confident right now, we’re on a streak and we know we can beat anybody.”

The UK players and coaches love that they are playing at home this weekend and they hope that fact will work in their favor. However, the Cats will take that 50-50 attitude, one that has worked wonders all season, into Saturday’s match against Harvard.

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