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By Tyler Spanyer | @KernelSpanyer
Following a second-round exit from the SEC Tournament to eventual conference champions Georgia; No. 8 UK men’s tennis will be looking to advance to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 for the fourth consecutive year this weekend.
UK will have home court advantage as the Cats welcome Virginia Tech, Western Michigan and No. 23 Michigan for the Lexington Regional.
“Our focus all season has been playing our best tennis for this tournament,” UK head coach Cedric Kauffmann said in a UK Athletics press release. “We are excited with the opportunity to start things off on our home courts.”
UK (20-11, 6-6 SEC) secured five wins over top-10 teams in 2013 and is the No. 1 seed for the Lexington Regional.
Michigan (16-9, 9-2 Big Ten) is the No. 2 seed. The Wolverines lost in the Big Ten title game to Ohio State.
Virginia Tech (15-9. 6-4 ACC) is the No. 3 and will face Michigan in round one on Friday.
Western Michigan (19-9, 3-2 MAC) is the four seed and enters the tournament fresh off earning the Mid-American Conference’s automatic bid.
The Cats will face Western Michigan in the first round. It will be the 13th all-time meeting between the two programs.
UK leads the series 11-1 with that one loss coming in the two schools’ last encounter in 2007.
“I think a lot of this is psychological,” Western Michigan head coach Dave Morin said to WMU Athletics. “They wear the same shoes and swing the same rackets, and we have to convince our guys that it comes down to playing your best.”
Senior Anthony Rossi, ranked No. 4 in the country with his 22-5 record, leads the Cats into the Lexington Regional.
Rossi and junior Tom Jomby were both selected as first team all-SEC players by the league office this season.
Michigan and Virginia Tech will get things started on Friday at noon, with UK and Western Michigan due to begin play at 3 p.m.
The winners from each contest will advance to play in Saturday’s second-round match for a chance to advance to the Sweet 16.
All games, including the 2 p.m. round two clash on Saturday, will be played at the Hilary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Center