Men's Tennis
Kauffmann, Baadi, Stephenson Collect ITA Regional Awards

Kauffmann, Baadi, Stephenson Collect ITA Regional Awards

by Greg Welsh

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Three representatives from Kentucky men’s tennis were among the 2024 Intercollegiate Tennis Association Division I Men’s Ohio Valley Regional Award winners announced by the governing body of collegiate tennis this week.

Cedric Kauffmann was named the region’s Wilson ITA Coach of the Year, Taha Baadi received the ITA Rafael Osuna Sportsmanship Award and Eli Stephenson was tabbed ITA Rookie of the Year.

For Kauffmann, this year’s honor marks his second consecutive Ohio Valley Regional Coach of the Year selection and the third of his career overall (2016, 2023, 2024). In his 12th season at the helm of the program, Kauffmann led the Wildcats to a 27-3 record, its third-straight NCAA Tournament quarterfinal, an undefeated Southeastern Conference regular season title and the program’s second-straight SEC Tournament Championship. The three losses for the Wildcats were the program’s fewest in a season since 1970. This season marked just the second time in program history that the team has won both the SEC regular season and tournament titles, the other coming in 1992.

Baadi becomes UK’s third winner of the Ohio Valley Rafael Osuna Sportsmanship award all-time joining Gabriel Diallo (2022) and Eric Quigley (2012). The award recognizes a player who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment and unwavering dedication to his team; with exceptional hard work, courage, sportsmanship, and a positive, cooperative attitude that makes people around him play better. On the court, Baadi occupied the first singles position for Kentucky for most of the 2024 campaign. He totaled a 16-13 singles record in dual matches and a 15-6 mark in doubles on his way to being named an All-SEC First Team selection. Baadi reached the round of 32 in the NCAA singles tournament and ended the year ranked No. 21 in the final ITA singles rankings.

Rounding out UK’s regional award winners is Stephenson, who was recognized by the ITA as the Ohio Valley’s most outstanding freshman of 2024. A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Stephenson went a remarkable 17-1 in singles this spring, anchoring the sixth position in the Wildcats’ lineup. He was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team after collecting two SEC Freshman of the Week awards on the year. Stephenson continually delivered for the Wildcats in big moments, leading the squad with six clinches this season, including one in the SEC Tournament Championship match against South Carolina. He is the fourth Wildcat to win regional rookie of year all-time, joining Jesse Witten (2002), Bruno Agostinelli (2006) and Ryotaro Matsumura (2016).

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

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