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Kentucky Kernel

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No. 4 Kentucky men’s tennis defeats No. 19 South Carolina, improves to 19-2

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

On Friday, April 5, No. 4 Kentucky men’s tennis traveled to Columbia, South Carolina, where it defeated the No. 19 Gamecocks 4-3, maintaining its 19-2 record.

The Cats also improved to 12-1 against nationally ranked opponents and ended their regular season road record at 7-1.

With two matches remaining before the SEC tournament, both which will take place back home in Lexington, Kentucky, the Wildcats can finish with the best program conference record in over a decade. 

With their sixth straight road win, here are three things to learn from the stand alone, ranked match. 

Joshua Lapadat and JJ Mercer prove they are one of the best doubles pairs in the nation. 

Against South Carolina, Lapadat and Mercer earned their 11th win of the season, winning 6-4 and setting up Jack Loutit and Taha Baadi to earn the doubles point. 

The No. 9 ranked duo are 7-2 in SEC play and have beat several ranked opponents this season. 

Their most impressive wins feature the No. 4 doubles pair of Hunter Heck and Karlis Ozolins at Illinois and the later No. 4 ranked duo of Daniel Milavsky and Cooper Williams of Harvard. 

They will have the opportunity to knock off No. 8 Johannus Monday and Angel Diaz when the Cats host No. 7 Tennessee for the last match of the year. 

Jaden Weekes is a must-see singles player, coming up clutch for the Wildcats.

The talented sophomore clinched another match for the Wildcats against South Carolina – something Weekes has done several times this season. 

Aside from his loss at Arkansas on March 29, Weekes has not lost a singles match since Feb. 11 at Duke. 

He boasts a 12-4 singles record and is 8-1 against SEC opponents. 

After his freshman season, Weekes had high ambitions after his notable clinch in the SEC Tournament final against Georgia’s Miguel Perez Peña. 

Earning a spot on court three and maintaining such a winning culture in his sophomore season, Weekes may be a key piece to Kentucky’s future. 

Kentucky is on top of the SEC and only one team stands in the way. 

Although Kentucky will face off against the No. 38 Georgia Bulldogs on Friday, April 12, for the first time since last year’s SEC Tournament, the Bulldogs offer no threat to winning the regular season, holding a 4-6 conference record.

However, the Cats will have their eyes on the rival Tennessee Volunteers, who are only one game back from Kentucky, with a 10-1 conference record. 

As poetic as it may seem, if Georgia upsets Kentucky, both the Wildcats and the Volunteers will hold a 10-1 SEC record, and it will all come down to their last matches of the season on Sunday, April 14, against each other.

If Kentucky beats Georgia, Tennessee still has a chance to share the SEC regular season title with the Wildcats if they win in Lexington.

Regardless of the outcome, the multi-sport rivalry will pack the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex. Kentucky will take on Georgia on Friday, followed by Tennessee on Sunday.

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