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No. 5 Kentucky men’s tennis remains undefeated in SEC, defeats No. 10 Texas A&M and No. 21 Auburn

Sydney Yonker
Kentucky fifth year Taha Baadi hits the ball during the Kentucky vs Notre Dame mens tennis match on Friday, Jan. 26, 2024, at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 4-0. Photo by Sydney Yonker | Staff

No. 5 Kentucky men’s tennis hosted two ranked SEC opponents over the weekend, beginning with No. 10 Texas A&M on Friday, March 22, where the Wildcats won 4-3 against their highest ranked opponent since Feb. 9.

On Sunday, March 24, Kentucky faced No. 21 Auburn outside at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex. The Cats swept the Tigers 4-0 to remain undefeated in conference play.

The Wildcats now stand at a 16-2 overall record, with a 7-0 record against SEC opponents. 

In their first home match, the Cats decided to switch up their doubles lineup, re-entering senior captain Taha Baadi to side with Jack Loutit, and replacing Jaden Weekes’ usual partner Eli Stephenson with Matt Rankin. 

Redshirt senior JJ Mercer made it a point that it doesn’t matter who is on the court for the Cats. 

“We got a lot of guys that are always eager to play,” Mercer said. “Everyone’s ready to go whoever it may be, and that’s important.” 

The Wildcats, who have not won the doubles point in their last four matches, got off to a hot start with a 6-3 win by Baadi and Loutit. 

No. 23 Joshua Lapadat and Mercer capped off doubles play, winning 6-3 and earning a point for Kentucky. 

With an early lead, the Wildcats scored fairly quickly into singles play, where Weekes dominated his opponent in straight sets 6-2, 6-2. 

Charlelie Cosnet, who holds one of the best singles records in the SEC, improved to 13-1 on the season and gave Kentucky another point after a 6-4, 6-3 win in straight sets. 

Lapadat, who won his first set, won a back and forth tiebreaker to clinch the match for Kentucky. 

This marked his first ranked singles win of the season, improving his record to 6-6. 

No. 36 Baadi and Rankin finished play, both losing their matches to make the final score 4-3.

Mercer, in the absence of star freshman Stephenson, talked about the depth of this team.  

“No matter who goes down, someone’s always going to step up and bring it for their teammates,” Mercer said. “We dig in when our teammates might have a bad day. We’re tough to beat.” 

In their second home match, the Wildcats kept the same doubles lineup as the match before, which proved effective once again.

Baadi and Loutit, after trailing 5-2, won the first doubles match 7-5. 

Weekes and Rankin lost the tiebreaker, leaving it up to Lapadat and Mercer, who were in a tiebreaker of their own. 

They eventually clinched the doubles point for Kentucky with a 6-6 (7-3) win. 

To start singles play, four Wildcats won their first sets, putting them in position for multiple singles victories. 

Baadi defeated No. 43 Tyler Stice 6-1, 6-2 in straight sets, earning his seventh ranked win on the year. 

Loutit cruised past his opponent 6-1, 6-1, shortly followed by Weekes’ clinch in straight sets. 

After a dominating performance from Kentucky, the match was called early in Lexington, making the final score 4-0. 

“I think that every month we are playing better and better,” Cosnet said. “We’re starting to build a brotherhood. We have great chemistry.” 

The Wildcats will go back on the road starting Friday, March 29, where they will travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks at 6:30 p.m. EST.

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