Posted: Feb 23, 2013 5:24 PM
The sixth-ranked University of Kentucky men's tennis team will travel to Birmingham, Ala., on Sunday for a doubleheader against Samford and Jacksonville State slated to begin at 10:00 a.m. CT and 2:00 p.m. CT, respectfully.
"We are excited to begin the hardcourt season," UK head coach Cedric Kauffmann said. "These teams will provide us with a tough test and we look to take the momentum we gained last weekend and push it into the hardcourt season."
Kentucky (10-2) is coming off a weekend at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's National Team Indoor Championships in Seattle, which saw the Wildcats collect two wins over top-10 ranked teams in No. 6 Georgia and No. 10 Mississippi State.
The Wildcats are 4-1 all-time against the Samford Bulldogs with the last meeting between the two sides coming back in 1973. Kentucky faced off against Jacksonville State for the first time in program history in 2010, in a match carried easily by Kentucky in a 6-1 win.
Samford comes into Sunday's match hoisting a 4-2 record overall, including a 3-0 record at home in Birmingham. The Bulldogs have collected wins over Austin Peay, Jacksonville State, Troy, and No. 45 Alabama.
The Gamecocks of JSU enter Sunday's match with a 2-6 overall record, but both of their wins have come in their last three matches. The Gamecocks have knocked off Alabama State (6-1) and Alabama A&M (7-0) in their two wins this season.
UK has played one of the toughest schedules in the nation this season, as the Wildcats have collected seven wins over teams ranked in the ITA top 50, including a 3-1 mark versus teams in the top 10 in No. 6 Georgia, No. 8 Oklahoma and No. 10 Mississippi State.
Kentucky is also hoisting the reigning Southeastern Conference's Freshman of the Week in Taiwan native Kevin Lai. Lai went 2-0 in the six slot during singles play last weekend in Seattle and was responsible for five of the Wildcats' points including a near-flawless performance in doubles with Tom Jomby against the best teams in the nation.
Another bright spot for Kentucky last weekend was senior Anthony Rossi, who knocked off two opponents ranked in the top 25 and has won his last five matches. Rossi knocked off No. 12 Raymond Sarmiento of Southern California 6-3, 6-4 and No. 21 Nathan Pasha 6-4, 7-6 (7) of Georgia in singles play a week ago. The senior currently sits just eight wins away from 100 career wins as he currently boasts a career record of 92-28 in singles play, including a 10-1 record so far this season.
UK currently sits in the drivers seat of the Eastern Division of the SEC in non-conference play with a 10-2 overall record, including a 7-0 mark at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Center in Lexington. UK has claimed wins in four of its last five matches and is tied with Arkansas for the second-most wins in the conference overall.