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Freshman Kevin Lai picked up a point in singles to help UK advance to the NCAA Tournament second round. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Freshman Kevin Lai picked up a point in singles to help UK advance to the NCAA Tournament second round. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
Rainy spring weather moved the first round of the NCAA Men's Tennis Tournament indoors on Friday afternoon, but that didn't keep the Wildcats from handling Western Michigan and advancing to face Virginia Tech in the second round Saturday afternoon.

Looking to start a deep tournament run, the Wildcats came out blazing, earning the doubles point on the strength of not their No. 1 doubles team comprised of junior Tom Jomby and freshman Kevin Lai, but due to the performances on courts two and three.

The tandems of Ryuji Hirooka and Beck Pennington combined with the duo of Anthony Rossi and Juan Pablo Murra gave Kentucky two quick decisive match victories, winning 8-3 and 8-1 respectively.

After having nearly two weeks off, it was important to grab that doubles point and strike quickly against a scrappy Western Michigan squad.

"I thought the intensity was really, really good," said UK head coach Cedric Kauffmann. "I think it's going to hopefully carry on to tomorrow, but I thought we played some of our best doubles today."

Though Jomby was unable to make a mark in the doubles point, he and Lai were well on their way to winning their doubles match point, he was the first off the court Friday with a dominating performance over his first-round opponent Ross VanderPloeg. Jomby made quick work of his foe, taking set one 6-0 before discarding VanderPloeg 6-4 in the second set.

Jomby's running mate in doubles, Lai, was busy making noise of his own on court No. 4, and quite literally.

From the other side of the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Center indoor facility, Lai could be heard yelling in celebration, point after point as he drew nearer and nearer to a victory for his team with the Cats leading 2-0. Lai got off to a great start in doubles with Jomby, playing a great match which was ultimately abandoned due to UK's clinch, and he carried his play over to singles.

He took the first set with relative ease, taking it 6-2. He was in for a battle in the second set, however, from his opponent Ruben Greiner.

That's when the intensity and his inner Jomby -known for his on-court energy and enthusiasm - began to manifest themselves.

"I think he's taking it from Tom. I think he's looking at Rossi. He's looking at the upperclassmen," said Kauffmann. "I think it's a little bit from him too. That's just the way he is."

Lai had to battle back in set two, trailing 3-1, before knotting things up at 3-3. Then Lai had a chance to put the match away with 6-5 lead, but the back and forth continued as Greiner forced a tiebreaker at 6-6.

It was all Lai from there, however, as he jumped out to a 3-0 lead that turned into a 7-3 victory to take the match in straight sets

It was a sign that the freshman has continued his season-long maturing process.

"Today I tried to work on every single point during the match," said Lai. "I'm all the way back (on court four) so I don't have to worry about what the crowd's doing and like with these three courts what they're doing because I couldn't see the score, so I just focused on my court and tried to finish for the team."

With Lai's point, the Cats had pulled ahead to a commanding 3-0 lead with three matches still in play. Rossi was battling on court No. 1 against WMU's No. 1 Nadin Indre. Indre gave Rossi all he could handle, though Rossi took the first set.

Meanwhile, after completion of Jomby's victory, the final match of the day got underway as junior Grant Roberts took the court. While the other matches grinded out point after point, Roberts made quick work of his opponent.

After getting a later start due to the weather and moving the tournament inside with fewer courts, Roberts still managed to finish before two of the other matches, disposing of Andrew Cahn in a hasty fashion to clinch the first round victory for his team and fulfilling a role that he relishes in.

"It felt pretty good," said Roberts. "I'm used to playing on the last two, so being in the pressure situation I guess you'd say, so I'm pretty used to that. It felt pretty good to get out there and get a match and take care of business."

Roberts took both sets by the score of 6-1 and propelled the No. 1 Wildcats into a second-round matchup with No. 3 seed Virginia Tech, which defeated No. 2 Michigan. After playing several matches outside over the course of the last couple months, getting back inside today was a good change of pace for the Wildcats.

"This is what's maybe is good if it does rain," said Kauffmann. "If we play inside (Saturday) I think it helps us, and if we play out, we've been playing some really good tennis outside."

No matter the venue, Kentucky will have to continue to bring the intensity Saturday if the Cats want to advance to the Sweet 16 and knock off a surging Virginia Tech bunch.

"I think over the last month they've been playing pretty well," Kauffmann said. "They just knocked off Michigan who's been kind of hot through the year, so I think we're going to have a pretty tough match. We're at home so we hope the Big Blue Nation will help us out."

Men's tennis planning to peak in NCAAs

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Cedric Kauffmann leads UK into the NCAA Tournament for the first time as a head coach starting on Friday. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Cedric Kauffmann leads UK into the NCAA Tournament for the first time as a head coach starting on Friday. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
Since the moment he took over 10 months ago, Cedric Kauffmann has been planning for this moment. All along, the first-year Kentucky head coach has been trying to position his team to play its best tennis in the NCAA Tournament.

That doesn't mean exactly what it sounds like though.

The Wildcats aren't going to paint the line with every shot. Not everything will go their way now that every match could be the last one of the season. What Kauffmann has been working toward is his team understanding that and knowing how to best deal with it.

"I never have six guys playing their best tennis in one match, but what I mean by 'best tennis' is knowing what to do when you're not playing your best," Kauffmann said.

On Friday, No. 8 UK (20-11) will open the NCAA Tournament at home - the fifth straight time the Wildcats have hosted to open NCAA play - against Western Michigan (19-9). When the first ball is served in doubles play at around 3 p.m. ET, Kauffmann knows it's unlikely all of his players will be at their peak; the goal is to grind through whatever happens.

"Am I going to have two, three guys that play very good tennis? Yeah, we're going to have to." Kauffmann said. "But I know I'm going to have one or two or three guys that are not going to play their best tennis and they're going to have to get through it."

During the fall, Anthony Rossi was having trouble with that. He looked around and saw that he was the only senior on the roster, that former stars Eric Quigley and Alex Musialek were no longer there to fill the top two spots in the lineup. Sensing that void, Rossi tried to step up, bearing the responsibility for an inexperienced group.

It wasn't working.

An inconsistent fall caused Rossi to drop from a No. 12 all the way to No. 94 in national singles rankings. By thinking first about his team, Rossi neglected himself and his own game. With the help of his coach, Rossi has found the right balance during the spring.

"I'm doing much better than the beginning of the season," Rossi said. "During the fall I was maybe focusing too much on the team and not on myself and that's why I dropped from 12 to 94. Now I'm doing first a better job on myself and then taking care of the team."

In turn, Rossi has excelled, running up a 22-5 spring record and ascending to No. 5 in the rankings. No. 2 singles player Tom Jomby has followed suit and joined Rossi as a First-Team All-Southeastern Conference honoree.

"I think we have one of the strongest one-two punches in the country when they're ready to play," Kauffmann said.

Entering the postseason, Rossi and Jomby will look to raise their game once more. With a freshmen-laden back of the rotation behind them, UK's two veterans will need to set the tone, particularly with unfamiliar opponents coming to Lexington for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament this week. After Western Michigan, UK faces a possible Saturday matchup with either No. 23 Michigan (16-9) or No. 42 Virginia Tech (15-9), neither of which the Cats have played in the recent past.

With that in mind, the Cats plan to think about themselves more than their opponents.

"Focusing on your game because we don't know much about them, they don't know much about us," Rossi said. "So just focus on your game one point at a time and that's about it."

Though Western Michigan, Michigan and Virginia Tech are all unknown, none of them figure to be able to throw anything at the Cats that they haven't already seen. UK has played an incredible 17 matches in 2013 against teams currently ranked in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's top 20.

"That's something that Coach (Dennis) Emery kind of taught me a little bit," Kauffmann said. "If you really want to be good, you gotta play a strong schedule that gets you ready for the end of the year."

It's now time for the Wildcats to find out exactly how well prepared they are.

"There is a little bit of pressure, but it's a really good pressure," Jomby said.

Head coach Cedric Kauffmann


Senior Anthony Rossi


Junior Tom Jomby


Senior captain Anthony Rossi looks to lead his Wildcats out of the first two rounds with a pair of wins to reach Champaign-Urbana, Ill., site of the 2013 NCAA Tennis Championships. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Senior captain Anthony Rossi looks to lead his Wildcats out of the first two rounds with a pair of wins to reach Champaign-Urbana, Ill., site of the 2013 NCAA Tennis Championships. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
For the fifth straight season, the Kentucky men's tennis team will host the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament at the Hilary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Center. But for the first time in those five seasons, it will be Cedric Kauffmann leading his No. 8 Wildcats into battle.

Kauffmann, who took over for Kentucky tennis legend and former head coach Dennis Emery, has guided his team to a 20-11 record in his first season at the helm and has UK poised for a deep run in the NCAA Tournament beginning on May 10 after a strong regular season.

"It feels good. I'm excited about the body of work we've done through the season, and I guess that's why we're hosting," said Kauffmann. "We've done some good things and we've done some things that were just so-so. I look into the postseason to maybe play our best tennis because I think we have some better tennis to be played."

Kauffmann would categorize his first season as good but not great after Kentucky failed to meet its goals of winning the ITA Indoor Tournament, the Southeastern Conference regular-season championship or the SEC Tournament crown.

Just like every tournament his team competes in, however, Kauffmann has his team gunning for the championship. This one just happens to be the biggest of them all. All of those unmet goals would be forgotten with a national title, and Kauffmann sees no reason why UK can't be the last team standing at tournament's end.

"Our goal every tournament is to win it," said Kauffmann. "Everybody in the field has that in the back of their heads. It's a long tournament, a physical tournament. We're going to take it one match at a time, but everyone in the back of their mind wants to win it."

Before the Cats can get to Champaign-Urbana, Ill., for the next stage of the tournament, Kentucky will have to deal with a competitive regional in Lexington comprised of its first-round opponent Western Michigan and potential second-round foes Michigan and Virginia Tech.

Though Western Michigan (19-9, 3-2 MAC) is the four seed of the regional, the Broncos will pose a threat to the Wildcats riding the emotion and momentum of a Mid-American Conference tournament victory.

"We're playing Western Michigan who won their conference. They're feeling good and have confidence," said Kauffmann. "That's a dangerous round. If we're lucky enough to win that round, we'll play somebody that has enough talent to knock us out. It's very dangerous and it's going to be very tough."

The Wildcats will have to continue to rely on their No. 1 and No. 2 players in senior Anthony Rossi and junior Tom Jomby, who rank No. 5 and No. 23 in the nation, respectively. From there, Kauffmann will put the rest of their chances in the hands of four true freshmen.

The talent is there, now it's time for the youngsters to take ownership of this team with a full season under their belt and seize the opportunities in front of them.

"Our freshman class, since we've had some injuries, is going to have to step up," said Kauffmann. "I thought this team was going to become theirs in a year or two, but it's kind of become their team. I threw four freshmen out there in the SEC Tournament. I thought they competed well and gave us a chance."

What Kauffmann is hoping for, despite a packed sports weekend on the Kentucky campus with the NCAA Tournament coinciding with the SEC Softball Tournament and a crucial three-game set for Kentucky baseball versus Vanderbilt, is for all of their fans to come out and support his team to give them an edge. With all the fans and one area, fans can stop by heading from one venue to another to help the Wildcats pick up a couple of wins this weekend.

"It's clear that I would love for them to step by and check it out," said Kauffmann. "I know the fans that have been following us all season will come. I'd like to have some new fans, maybe come on over. I think they'll enjoy it. I think it will help our guys play a little bit better. I think our guys play good with a loud crowd, so I welcome everybody to come."

Kentucky Sports Report (week of April 22)

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Baseball
- Kentucky continued a grueling stretch with 14-of-16 ranked opponents with a four-game week, with No. 8 Louisville earning a midweek win and No. 14 South Carolina sweeping the Wildcats in Columbia over the weekend.
- Sophomore two-way standout A.J. Reed smashed his team-high 10th homer of the year on Saturday, as a part of a 4-12 weekend at the plate.
- Junior lefty Corey Litrell tossed his seventh quality start of the year and 21st of his illustrious career on Sunday, allowing three earned runs in 7.2 innings.
- Freshman catcher George Fettes belted his first homer of his career on Saturday afternoon over the left-field wall that helped UK rally to take the lead before falling to the Gamecocks.

Softball
- The Kentucky softball team is coming off a 3-2 week where it swept a doubleheader at Middle Tennessee State before earning a win at Arkansas in a three-game set. UK defeated MTSU 7-4 in game one before a 13-1 triumph in game two.
- Home runs led UK in game two over MTSU as the Wildcats blasted five home runs to break the school record for most homers in a game. Sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner started the home run assault, blasting a leadoff shot in the second inning before junior infielder Krystal Smith hit a two-run homer later that inning. Junior pitcher/infielder Lauren Cumbess hit a two-run home run in the third inning before freshman infielder Ansley Smith hit consecutive two-run round trippers in the third and fourth innings to tie and break the school record. In all, the Wildcats posted 15 hits in the game, including three doubles and 12 RBI.
- Cumbess has been the offensive leader for UK, hitting safely in 13 of her last 14 games with an extra-base hit in nine of those 14 games. For the season, Cumbess leads the team with a .359 (56-for-156) average, including 12 doubles, 11 homers and 37 RBI. Freshman Kelsey Nunley is 20-6 on the year in the circle with a 2.08 ERA. Cumbess is second
on the team with a 3.52 ERA and a 10-5 record.

Men's tennis
- Kentucky advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2013 SEC Tournament, knocking off No. 9 Mississippi State in the second round, 4-2.
- The Wildcats bowed out in the quarterfinals after dropping a tight match with number one overall seed, and No. 2 Georgia, 4-3. Anthony Rossi defeated No. 6 KU Singh 7-6, 6-3 in his second win of the year over a top-10 player.
- The NCAA Selection Show is Tuesday, April 30 at 5:00 p.m. ET on NCAAsports.com.
Women's tennis
- The Kentucky women's tennis team lost 4-2 in its opening round match vs. LSU at the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
- Junior Caitlin McGraw and freshman Nadia Ravita won the No. 1 doubles match 8-0.
- Ranked 22nd, Ravita recorded another singles win, defeating Kaitlin Burns 7-5, 6-3 in the No. 1 singles slot.
- McGraw also recorded a singles win for UK, taking court four 7-5, 7-6 (3).

Women's golf
- The women's golf team recorded its best finish at the SEC Championships in 20 years as it placed tied for fifth, shooting 58-over-par for the tournament at the Greystone Golf and Country Club in Birmingham, Ala.
- Freshman Sarah Harris was the highlight of the tournament for the Wildcats, finishing a career-best second place at 9-over-par for the event. Harris, who was tied for the individual lead after day one, was tied for fifth coming into Sunday before a 4-over-par, 76 catapulted her into second overall. The second place individual finish was also the highest this season for Kentucky.
- Junior Liz Breed, who was nearly as impressive as Harris over the weekend, recorded a career-high finish tying for sixth overall at 11-over-par. The Waynesboro, Pa., native came into Sunday tied for fifth before falling just one slot after a 6-over-par, 78 final round.

Men's golf
- The UK men's golf team finished in 13th place at the SEC Championships last weekend, shooting 50-over-par for the tournament at the Seaside Course in St. Simmons Island, Ga.
- Junior Ben Stow was the high finisher for the Wildcats, placing tied for 12th at 5-over-par. The Salisbury, England native was even par through the first round before posting 2-over in round two and 3-over in the final 18.

Track and field
- Kentucky opened the new UK Outdoor Track and Field Facility with the inaugural collegiate Heart of the Bluegrass Classic on Saturday.
- UK won all but one of the 29 events the team entered at the inaugural collegiate Heart of the Bluegrass Classic on Saturday.
- Cally Macumber and Michelle Canterna set the school records in their respective events.
- Macumber's mile time of 4:37.75 also set the facility record.
- Canterna cleared the new outdoor school record vault height at 3.87 meter /12'08.25".
- Keith Hayes won all four of the events he entered, including two relays.
- Rebecca Famurewa won three throws events, including a PR in the hammer throw.

Upcoming schedule

Tuesday, April 23
Baseball at Western Kentucky - 7:00 p.m.

Wednesday, April 24
Softball hosts Louisville - 6:00 p.m.

Thursday, April 25
Track and field at Penn Relays - 10:00 a.m. (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Baseball at Ole Miss - 7:30 p.m.

Friday, April 26
Track and field at Penn Relays - 9:00 a.m. (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Track and field at Triton Invitational - 1:00 p.m. (San Diego, Calif.)
Softball hosts Missouri - 5:00 p.m.
Baseball at Ole Miss - 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 27
Track and field at Penn Relays - 12:55 p.m. (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Track and field at Triton Invitational - 1:00 p.m. (San Diego, Calif.)
Softball hosts Missouri- 1:00 p.m.
Baseball at Ole Miss - 3:15 p.m.
Track and field at Miami University RedHawk Invitational (Miami, Ohio)

Sunday, April 28
Softball hosts Missouri - 1:00 p.m.
Track and field at Payton Jordan Invitational - 4:00 p.m.
(Palo Alto, Calif.)

Kentucky Sports Report (week of April 15)

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Baseball
- Kentucky baseball picked up a 6-3 win over Austin Peay on Tuesday, behind five strong innings from freshman righthander Kyle Cody and a two-hit performance from freshman outfielder Kyle Barrett.
- Kyle Barrett shined once again on Friday going 3-5 and plating the game-tying RBI in the series-opening comeback win over Tennessee.
- After a quality start that led the Wildcats to victory on Friday night, A.J. Reed crushed his team-leading ninth homer of the year in UK's heartbreaking 10-9 loss to Tennessee on Saturday afternoon.
- Junior closer Trevor Gott added two more saves during the week, improving his total to nine on the year and program-record 20 in his career. Gott's ERA is now an impressive 0.95 with a 4-0 record, while fanning 24 in 19.0 IP.

Softball
- The Kentucky softball team wrapped up one of its most historic weeks in school history last week with several records broken. The first was sixth-year head coach Rachel Lawson becoming the winningest head coach in school history with her 182nd career win. That honor came a few days before UK upset No. 3 Florida on the same day it named its new $9.5 million stadium after longtime administrator John Cropp. Overall, UK went 4-2 on the week with wins over Florida, Marshall and two against EKU.
- Freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley earned the win in the upset over UF, becoming the first player in school history to win 20 games in a season, surpassing former stars Chanda Bell and Keary Camunas. Nunley went 3-0 on the week with a 1.64 ERA, while junior Lauren Cumbess also earned a win in the circle.
- Cumbess was the star for UK at the plate, going 10-for-22 throughout the week with four doubles, three homers and seven RBI. Cumbess is riding a nine-game hitting streak - a career long - posting an extra-base hit in eight of those nine games. Senior Alice O'Brien went 8-for-19 on the week with a double, home run and four RBI, while freshmen Maisie Steed and Nikki Sagermann also had home runs.

Men's tennis
- The University of Kentucky men's tennis team has earned the No. 8 overall seed in this week's Southeastern Conference Tournament, it was announced on Sunday night.
- UK will face the No. 9 overall seed, Mississippi State on Thursday at 6:00 p.m. CT. The Wildcats and Mississippi State have faced off two times this season already, with UK winning both prior matches.
- The first match saw Kentucky sweep MSU 4-0 at the ITA National Indoor Championships in Seattle, Wash., in the Sweet 16. Kentucky lost the doubles point and rallied to win four of six singles matches in the second meeting of the season in Starkville.

Women's tennis

- The Kentucky women's tennis team upset No. 27 South Carolina 4-3 on Sunday at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex.
- Junior Caitlin McGraw clinched the match for Kentucky with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win on court five.
- Kentucky won the doubles point, winning two of three doubles matches as Khristina Blajkevitch and Jessica Stiles clinched the point by winning three consecutive games to win the No. 3 doubles match 9-7.
- Freshman Nadia Ravita defeated another ranked opponent, taking down No. 77 Jaklin Alawi 7-5, 0-6, 6-4.

Track and field
- The Kentucky track and field teams enjoyed one of the best total team performances of the season at the "Kentuckiana" Border Battle on Saturday.
- The Wildcats' men's and women's teams combined with Louisville to defeat the aggregate scores of Indiana and Notre Dame.
- Fifteen - 10 men's and five women's - Wildcat individuals or relay teams claimed event titles on Saturday.
- Rebecca Famurewa increased her UK freshman record discus throw to 57.09 meters / 187'04", which gives her the No. 2 ranking in school history.
- The mark also is the third-farthest discus throw in the nation this season.
- UK competitors won four of the seven throws events they entered.
- Tamyah Pipkin became the third fastest Wildcat ever at 200 meters as she won race with a time of 23.67.
- Kadeem Kushimo enjoyed a career-afternoon winning both the 100 and 200 meters.

Men's golf
- The UK men's golf team placed eighth in the 14-team field at the Gary Koch Invitational last week, finishing at 22-over-par. The Wildcats recorded top-10 team finishes in all six of their spring tournaments.
- Juniors Cody Martin and Ben Stow led the way for the Cats, shooting 5-over-par for the invitational and finished tied for 29th.
- UK wrapped up its regular season schedule and now look toward the post season as the Wildcats travel to St. Simmons Island, Ga., this weekend for the Southeastern Conference Championships, April 19-21.

Upcoming schedule

Tuesday, April 16
Baseball hosts Louisville - 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, April 17
Softball at Middle Tennessee State (DH) - 4:00 p.m.
Women's tennis vs. LSU - 3:00 p.m. (Starkville, Miss.)

Thursday, April 18
Men's tennis vs. Mississippi State - 7:00 p.m. (Oxford, Miss.)
Women's tennis at SEC Tournament (Starkville, Miss.)

Friday, April 19
Softball at Arkansas - 7:00 p.m.
Baseball at South Carolina - 7:00 p.m.
Men's golf at SEC Championship (St. Simon's, Ga.)
Women's golf at SEC Championship (Birmingham, Ala.)
Men's tennis at SEC Tournament (Oxford, Miss.)
Women's tennis at SEC Tournament (Starkville, Miss.)

Saturday, April 20
Track and field hosts Heart of the Bluegrass Classic - 10:00 a.m.
Softball at Arkansas - 1:00 p.m.
Baseball at South Carolina - 3:00 p.m.
Men's golf at SEC Championship (St.Simon's, Ga.)
Women's golf at SEC Championship (Birmingham, Ala.)
Men's tennis at SEC Tournament (Oxford, Miss.)
Women's tennis at SEC Tournament (Starkville, Miss.)

Sunday, April 21
Baseball at South Carolina - 1:30 p.m.
Softball at Arkansas - 2:00 p.m.
Men's golf at SEC Championship (St.Simon's, Ga.)
Women's golf at SEC Championship (Birmingham, Ala.)
Men's tennis at SEC Tournament (Oxford, Miss.)
Women's tennis at SEC Tournament (Starkville, Miss.)

Cedric Kauffmann has guided the men's tennis team to the No. 8 ranking in his first year as head coach. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Cedric Kauffmann has guided the men's tennis team to the No. 8 ranking in his first year as head coach. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
The Kentucky men's tennis is team is very good. The No. 8 ranking next to its name suggests that is so.

Cedric Kauffmann, UK men's tennis head coach, would agree. But sometimes very good just doesn't cut it, especially when the head coach holds his program to such high standards.

"I thought we started a little bit better than I expected, and in the middle we took some losses," said Kauffmann. "Overall, they're doing very well. But I'm a perfectionist and I'm very picky, so very good is just not good enough."

The No. 8 Wildcats (19-8, 6-4 SEC) are in the midst of yet another terrific season as they battle through the war that is Southeastern Conference men's tennis. They have eight wins against current top-25 teams including two wins against teams in the top six in No. 3 Georgia and No. 6 Ole Miss. UK also boasts two players in the top 25 in the singles rankings in senior team captain No. 19 Anthony Rossi and No. 21 Tom Jomby.

Those two upperclassmen along with junior Grant Roberts have been given a little extra burden to carry this season as Kauffmann has been forced to fill half of his singles lineup with freshmen. With the loss of junior Alejandro Gomez to injury earlier this year, the lineup got much younger and inexperienced. It also made Kauffmann's job more challenging as UK looks for a strong finish to its regular season.

In Gomez's absence, Kauffmann would like to see a bit more urgency, especially from his younger players, heading into the postseason.

"We've had to do it quicker since we lost Gomez," said Kauffmann. "I have three freshmen in my lineup out of six. It's not easy. My freshmen sometimes act like freshmen. It's OK because they're freshmen, but I don't accept it.

"You can see if you come to a match that there is a difference in the body language in my freshmen than to Rossi or Grant Roberts. You can see the difference. What I want to see not just through one through six, but one through 12, is the way you conduct yourself on the court and how you take care of business every day, and not just talking about it."

Kauffmann, who is enjoying his first season as head coach after serving as an assistant coach to former head coach Dennis Emery since 2005, says things haven't changed all that much in his new role, but there have been plenty of challenges in following up last year's SEC regular-season championship.

The biggest challenge heading into the season was finding out if returning players like Rossi and Jomby would be able to handle the roles of No. 1 and No. 2 in the UK singles lineup with UK great Eric Quigley and fellow senior Alex Musialek departing last year. Fortunately for Kauffmann, while those departed players are irreplaceable in many respects, Rossi and Jomby have filled a very deep void and helped make Kauffmann's transition to head coach smoother than expected.

"Rossi and Tom have done a good job replacing the one and two spots," said Kauffmann. "They're very, very good. What Quigley and Musialek did was show up in the big matches and the big moments, especially in the postseason. They came up big.

"I expect Tom and Anthony to do the same in the coming weeks. But they've done a tremendous job filling those shoes."

The shoes left by Emery for Kauffmann were oversized as well because Kauffmann's first match as head coach at UK would be his first as a head coach at the collegiate level.

Emery had basically built the entire men's tennis program from the ground up in his 30-year career as the UK tennis head coach, acquiring legendary status in amassing 655 wins and 23 NCAA Tournament appearances, and is responsible for nearly half of UK's all-time wins. He also lays claim to two SEC championships.

Kauffmann, however, has remained true to himself and the lessons he'd learned from Emery while coaching by his side for the last eight seasons while also playing for him for four as a Wildcat. Not much, other than some extra office duties, has changed the way Kauffmann handles his business. He has, however, found losses a little more difficult to deal with in his new role.

"I don't feel that much different," said Kauffmann. "I maybe just blame myself a little bit more which is normal. If something goes wrong or we lose, I can tell the guys you didn't do this right or wrong, I kind of blame myself first. What could I have done better for this kid to play better and do more of, which is good."

What Kauffmann has come to realize, however, is that there is more to being a tennis coach than coaching tennis. He's learned that there's more to being a student-athlete than just being an athlete. He's taken it upon himself to improve the lives of everyone in and around his program no matter who they are or what they do.

Whether it's improving the skill of the last man on the team or having a roster full of gentlemen, Kauffmann wants his players to constantly grow. That's what he claims is his job.

"I pay a little bit more attention to everybody on the team," said Kauffmann now that he is a head coach. "Even when people are not playing, at the end of the day, I know my job is measured on wins and losses and how we do in the SEC, but I try as a head coach to do more than that.

"I try to make them grow and attack them as much what they do on the tennis court as much as saying 'hi' to people, looking them in the eye, opening the door for the ladies."

As far as results go, he's doing his job just fine. No, the Wildcats won't win the regular-season conference title this year as Georgia has already clinched, but there is plenty of optimism left for a successful postseason run.

With the SEC Championships just around the corner and only three regular-season matches left, Kauffmann wants his team to start preparing for the postseason by treating the remaining matches as such with challenges on the road at Florida and South Carolina.

"We talk about (the postseason) at the beginning of the season," said Kauffmann. "A little bit of reminding when I feel it's not good enough. I just want them to treat each match like it is postseason. I think that's why Virginia, who is the No. 1 team, has not lost this season. They don't take anyone for granted in their play. That's what I'm looking for from me and this team."

As the conclusion of his first full season as head coach draws near, Kauffmann hopes this team has learned from some of the mistakes it's made along the way as they strive to be a perfect, finished product by season's end. He also knows his team has what it takes to be good enough and to reach the standards he's set for them. If he does his job to the best of his ability, year No. 1 for Kauffmann may finish with a perfect ending.

"Yes, I believe they can win the SEC Tournament," said Kauffmann. "I think they can win at the end of the year. It's going to be physical and mental and all those things, but talent-wise, I think we have enough on the tennis court to do it. After that, I have to do a good job."

Kentucky Sports Report (week of April 8)

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Women's basketball
- The 2012-13 season was the most successful in program history with school records of 30 wins and eight victories over top-25 opponents. The Wildcats tied a school-record with 13 Southeastern Conference wins and advanced to their school-record fourth Elite Eight in the last four years, including second straight.
- UK has charted 25 or more wins in a school-record four straight seasons.
- Seniors A'dia Mathies and Brittany Henderson leave as the winningest class in UK Hoops history with a 111-30 record (.787).
- Mathies ends her career as UK's all-time leader in steals (320), games played (140) and started (139), while ranking second in scoring (2,014), 3-point field goals made (177) and field goals attempted (1,687), third in field goals made (712), free throws made (413) and attempted (590) and ninth in assists (349).

Gymnastics
- The Kentucky gymnastics team posted the program's highest-ever NCAA Regional team score with a 195.575 on Saturday.
- Kentucky finished in fourth-place overall just .45 outside of second position.
- Audrey Harrison finished in a tie for third for the individual all-around title with a score of 39.2, but tied for the highest AA score among competitors not on a team advancing to regionals.
- Alexis Gross earned a career-high all-around score 39.05, in her first meet competing in all four events during a single meet this season.

Softball

- The Kentucky softball team finished a 3-1 week with a sweep over Southeastern Conference foe South Carolina over the weekend, moving its SEC winning streak to a school-record tying six games. The streak began with a sweep of Mississippi State a few weeks ago.
- True freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley led Kentucky over the weekend with a 2-0 record and a 2.50 ERA. Nunley is an impressive 17-4 on the year with a 2.09 ERA with her 17 wins moving her into a tie for fourth on UK's single-season wins list with Morgan Marr, who had 17 in 2001. Nunley is the first UK pitcher to post 17 or more wins in a season since Chanda Bell had 18 in 2010. Junior Lauren Cumbess went 1-0 on the weekend, clinching the sweep with a strong seven-inning performance on Sunday, allowing three runs on seven hits with four strikeouts. Cumbess led UK at the dish over the weekend by going 5-for-10 with a double, two home runs and four RBI.
- Cumbess tied the game Saturday with a two-run homer and tied Sunday's game with an RBI single. Freshman Nikki Sagermann also went 5-for-10 with a double and home run, while junior Ginny Carroll, senior Alice O'Brien and freshman Christian Stokes also hit home runs. Sophomore Griffin Joiner had three hits and three RBI.

Baseball
- Kentucky suffered its first series loss of the year at the blistering-hot Tigers, previously owning series wins over Florida, No. 14 Mississippi State and Georgia.
- UK earned a thrilling 5-4 win over No. 9 Louisville in 10 innings in front of a UL school-record crowd, with freshman Kyle Cody turning in a quality start and freshman Kyle Barrett driving in the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th.
- Freshman Kyle Barrett drove in the game-winning RBI against Louisville in the top of the 10th inning, completing the dramatic late inning comeback.
- UK has been led offensively by junior J.T. Riddle, who has hit .322 with six doubles, one triple, one homer and 17 RBI, stealing five bases. Sophomore A.J. Reed has belted eight homers and has 33 RBI, batting .319.

Men's tennis
- Kentucky dropped the first match of its three-match road trip to conclude the regular season at No. 14 Vanderbilt, 4-2.
- Kentucky won the doubles point with wins on courts one and three to get the early 1-0 lead, but were unable to hold on in singles play.
- Beck Pennington gave UK the early 2-0 lead as he won on court six. The Bowling Green, Ky., native is undefeated in singles play this season, with an 8-0 record, and is 2-0 in SEC play.
- The Wildcats finish the regular season at Florida and South Carolina this weekend before traveling to Oxford, Miss., for the SEC Tournament. The Wildcats defeated both UF and SC in 2011.

Women's tennis
- The Kentucky women's tennis team fell 5-1 at home on Friday to No. 19 Vanderbilt.
- Freshman Nadia Ravita improved on her already impressive freshman season, defeating No. 61 Lauren Mira in straight sets. The 24th-ranked individual won the match on court one 7-5, 6-3.
- Kentucky will host No. 2 Florida on Friday and No. 29 South Carolina on Sunday to round out the regular season.

Track and field
- A small contingent of Wildcats competed at the Bellarmine Invitational on Saturday.
- Joanne Imbert placed second in the high jump with an outdoor season-high clearance of 1.72 meters/5'07.75".
- Michelle Canterna finished as the runner-up in the pole vault, with a top clearance of 3.80 meters/12'05.5"
- Shelby Kennard cleared 3.5 meters/ 11'05.75m, tying her outdoor season-high pole vault, before being unable to get over the bar at 3.65 meters /11'11.75".

Women's golf
- The UK women's golf team finished fifth at the M&F Bank Rebel Invitational last week in Oxford, Miss., shooting 22-over for the tournament. The Cats recorded the third lowest round on the final day to propel them into fifth place of the 18-team field.
- Junior Liz Breed, who competed as an individual for the Wildcats, charted one of her best performances of her career, tying her career-low with a 54-hole score of 2-over-par, 218 and equaled her best finish, tying for eighth place overall.
- Senior Ashleigh Albrecht tallied her third-lowest score of the season, finishing tied for 12th at 1-over-par. Freshman Sarah Harris also had an impressive tournament, posting a career-low 7-over-par, 223, including a personal-best 1-under-par, 71 on the final day. She finished tied for 24th.

Upcoming schedule

Monday, April 8
Men's golf at Gary Koch Invitational (Tampa, Fla.)

Tuesday, April 9
Men's golf at Gary Koch Invitational (Tampa, Fla.)
Softball hosts Marshall - 5:00 p.m.
Baseball hosts Austin Peay - 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, April 10
Softball at Eastern Kentucky - 2:00 p.m.
Softball at Eastern Kentucky - 4:30 p.m.

Friday, April 12
Women's tennis hosts Florida - 4:00 p.m.
Men's tennis at Florida - 5:00 p.m.
Softball hosts Florida - 6:00 p.m.
Baseball hosts Tennessee - 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 13
Softball hosts Florida - 1:00 p.m.
Baseball hosts Tennessee - 2:00 p.m.
Football hosts Blue/White Scrimmage - 7:00 p.m.
Track and field at Kentuckiana Border Battle (Louisville, Ky.)

Sunday, April 14
Softball hosts Florida - 12:00 p.m.
Women's tennis hosts South Carolina - 12:00 p.m.
Baseball hosts Tennessee - 1:00 p.m.
Men's tennis at South Carolina - 1:00 p.m.

Recent Comments

  • Guy Ramsey: The song is "The Mighty Rio Grande" by the band This Will Destroy You. read more
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