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By Tyler Spanyer | @KernelSpanyer
After cruising through Western Michigan and Virginia Tech, No. 8 UK (22-11, 6-6 SEC) will head to Urbana, Ill., for the fourth straight year to face No. 9 Duke (25-5, 9-1 ACC) in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.
UK beat Western Michigan 4-0 and Virginia Tech 4-1 last weekend to advance to their fourth straight Sweet 16. Junior Grant Roberts clinched both matches for the Cats with two straight set singles wins.
“Getting to another Sweet 16 is great, but I want more,” Senior Anthony Rossi said after the Cats’ win over Virginia Tech. “I am really hungry for this one.”
Duke finished the year on a seven match winning streak, before falling to Wake Forest in the ACC Championship semifinals. The Blue Devils are led by senior Henrique Cunha, who is ranked No. 9 nationally in the latest ITA Polls.
Cunha will match-up with Rossi in singles play in a battle of top-10 opponents, while all of Duke’s top four players are ranked in the top-75.
Rossi is 14-5 against ranked singles opponents this season. The five losses are his only five losses on the year as his record has climbed to 23-5 overall this season.
UK is also 14-2 on the year when winning the doubles point, which they have done in both matches of the tournament thus far.
“We stress the importance of these championships to the boys,” UK head coach Cedric Kauffmann said, “So like Rossi said, we just have to take it one point at a time.”
The Cats and Blue Devils will begin play at 8 p.m. on Thursday. Should the Cats advance, they advance could face the No. 1 overall seed UCLA in the Elite 8.