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Get to Know: 2024 Kentucky men’s tennis team

Sydney Yonker
Kentucky freshman Jack Loutit hits the ball during the Kentucky vs. Virginia mens tennis match on Sunday Feb. 4, 2024, at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 4-3. Photo by Sydney Yonker | Staff

With the conclusion of non-conference play, a new season of league play has arrived.

Last season, the men’s tennis team finished with a 27-5 record, leading to a SEC Championship for the Wildcats before they were defeated 4-2 in the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals by Virginia.

Some notable players returned to the roster and have excelled for Kentucky including All-SEC First Team participant Joshua Lapadat, All-SEC Second Team member Taha Baadi and All-Freshman Team honoree Jaden Weekes.

Bolstering that roster, the Wildcats also added three exciting freshmen who have already proved they have the potential to be clutch players during this year’s SEC run: Jack Loutit, Matt Rankin and Eli Stephenson.

Meet the team:

Taha Baadi

Year: Fifth-year senior

Hometown: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

2022-2023 Stats: 

  • All SEC-Second Team
  • 19-8 singles record
  • 16-8 at fourth singles
  •  3-1 in singles during NCAA Tournament

About: Baadi, who returned for his fifth year of eligibility, has stepped up as a leader on the squad. His impressive run in the NCAA tournament last season spoke for itself but he has continued to perform at a high level throughout the season thus far.

Fact: In the 2019-20 season, Baadi clinched a match against Kentucky to send his previous school, Wake Forest, to the ITA National Indoor Championships.

Christophe Clement 

Year: Sophomore 

Hometown: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

2022-2023 Stats:

  • Finished the spring 2-1 in doubles
  • Appeared in the doubles lineup in the NCAA Tournament 

About: Clement, who got his feet wet one year ago, entered his second stint with Kentucky with promise. Tapping into his potential, Clement boasts a winning record thus far on the season at 2-1.

Fact: Prior to UK, Clement was ranked No. 2 in Canada U18 and was also part of the Canadian Tennis Federation.

Charlelie Cosnet

Year: Sophomore 

Hometown: Le Mans, France

2022-2023 Stats:

  • Finished 12-11 in singles at the No. 6 position 
  • Reached No. 57 on the ITA Singles Rankings
  • Four clinches on the dual season
  • SEC Freshman of the Week (Feb. 22) 

About: Cosnet, a frequent singles player last season for the Wildcats, entered his sophomore year with a true workload. With his singles play making him an intimidating opponent this season, Cosnet stands at a perfect 8-0 up to this point in the season.

Fact: During his freshman season, Cosnet went 1-0 against nationally ranked opponents, upsetting Ryan Colby (No. 82, USC).

Joshua Lapadat

Year: Senior 

Hometown: London, Ontario, Canada

2022-2023 Stats:

  • First-Team All-SEC
  • SEC Tournament MVP
  • Led team in wins, 23-4 singles record 
  • 7-3 in singles against nationally ranked opponents 

About: Joshua had an impressive junior season and, as one of the few upperclassmen on the roster, has become a pivotal leader on the team for the Wildcats. He has struggled in the 2023-24 campaign, standing at 2-4 on the season, but has thrived in duos play with his partner JJ Mercer.

Fact: Lapadat finished on the ITA Indoor Nationals All-Tournament Team in singles (No. 3) and doubles (No. 2) 

Jack Loutit

Year: Freshman 

Hometown: Auckland, New Zealand 

2022-2023 Stats (Saint Kentigern High School / Te Kura School):

  • Four ITF singles titles, four doubles titles 
  • No. 1 ranked player from New Zealand 
  • 16U and 18U New Zealand Nationals winner 

About: The first freshman on the roster, Loutit drew attention as an exciting international player. His accomplishments in New Zealand speak for themselves and his career at UK has been no different, with the Kiwi boasting at 8-3 record up to this point.

Fact: Loutit finished in the Round of 32 in singles at the Junior U.S. Open and finished No. 43 in the ITF junior rankings.

JJ Mercer

Year: Redshirt senior

Hometown: Huntington, West Virginia 

2022-2023 Stats: 

  • 15-6 in doubles with Joshua Lapadat 
  • Peaked at No. 38 in doubles 
  • All-Tournament Team (ITA Indoor Nationals) for doubles

About: Mercer, now playing his third season with the Wildcats, showed out with great performances in doubles last year. Returning to doubles play with his partner, Lapadat, the pair stand at 4-2 on the season while Mercer himself boasts a 2-0 singles record.

Fact: Mercer transferred from Ohio State to Kentucky before the 2021-22 season and helped lead UK to its third NCAA Tournament Elite Eight appearance in program history with his win over Wake Forest’s Siddhant Banthia. 

Matt Rankin

Year: Freshman

Hometown: Edinburgh, Scotland 

2022-2023 Stats (King’s InterHigh): 

  • LTA rank No. 1 (U18) in Great Britain 
  • ITF Junior rank No. 68
  • Competed in junior grand slams (Australian Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open) 
  • Four singles and seven doubles Junior ITF titles 

About: Another new kid on the block, Rankin achieved major successes prior to his commitment to the University of Kentucky. A winner of three European titles and a do-it-all type of talent, he stands at a perfect 5-0 in singles competitions and has a winning record with his two doubles partners.

Fact: Rankin was a five-time representative of Scotland in the Four Nations Championship, appearing for the first time before high school.

Tate Sandman

Year: Senior 

Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina 

2022-2023 Stats:

  • ITA Scholar Athlete
  • Frank J. Ham Society of Character inductee 
  • All-SEC Community Service Team  

About: “The Sandman” is a true crowd favorite and a busy man off the court with his community service and academic successes speaking volumes of his character, with the senior being named a 2023-24 team captain. While he has not finished a match on the court for the Wildcats, Sandman remains a pivotal leader off it.

Fact: In his sophomore season, Sandman accumulated over 60+ hours of community service, which sprung a newfound interest. He is now a frequent volunteer.

Eli Stephenson

Year: Freshman 

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky 

2022-2023 Stats (St. Xavier High School)

  • No. 1 ranked player in Kentucky 
  • Blue Chip Recruit ranked No. 18 in the USA
  • Two-time Kentucky state champion

About: The final exciting freshman on the roster, it only made sense for the No. 1 player in the state to commit to the flagship school. With eye-catching figures prior to college, Stephenson has solidified himself as a star in Lexington, boasting a perfect 8-0 record in singles and a 6-4 record with doubles partner Jaden Weekes.

Fact: Stephenson started playing tennis at the age of five and started competing in junior competitions and tournaments at age nine. 

Jaden Weekes

Year: Sophomore 

Hometown: Montreal, Quebec, Canada 

2022-2023 Stats: 

  • SEC All-Freshman Team 
  • All-SEC Tournament Team
  • 20-9 in overall doubles
  • Three clinches, one being in the SEC Tournament final 

About: After a successful freshman campaign last year, Weekes returned to Lexington with high ambitions. Having clinched in the SEC Tournament final against Georgia’s Miguel Perez Peña in a third-set tiebreaker last year, Weekes picked up where he left off and boasts winning records in both singles and doubles play.

Fact: As a freshman, he managed to get his first collegiate ranked win against No. 90 Casey Hoole (South Carolina).

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