Kentucky Opens SEC Play with No. 73 LSU, No. 66 Arkansas

Feb. 27, 2014

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 25 University of Kentucky men’s tennis team will open the 2014 Southeastern Conference season on Friday afternoon with the Wildcats facing off against No. 73 LSU in Baton Rouge, La., before traveling to Fayetteville, Ark., to play against No. 66 Arkansas in the conference opening weekend.

Friday’s match with LSU is slated for a 4 p.m. ET start in Baton Rouge, with Sunday’s match scheduled to start at 2 p.m. ET. 

“We are starting our SEC slate on the road against two solid teams this weekend,” UK head coach Cedric Kauffmann said, who will begin his second season as a head coach in the SEC. “This weekend will be crucial for us to position ourselves in the conference standings. The rankings are a bit skewed right now due to it being the first week of computer rankings. LSU and Arkansas are dangerous at their place. Our guys have to be ready to compete like warriors and play smart to get the results we want.

The Wildcats come into the weekend slotted No. 25 in the national Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s polls after exiting the non-conference portion of its schedule 7-4. Kentucky got one match in outdoors last weekend, in Norman, Okla., as the Wildcats faced off against No. 3 Oklahoma on the road.

Conditions look promising for an outdoor match on Friday afternoon, with temperatures expected to top out at 65 degrees and only a 10 percent chance of rain in the forecast. The weather in Fayetteville does not look as promising, with the high expected to be 37 degrees and freezing rain in the area on Sunday afternoon.

As per usual for Kentucky, its non-conference schedule has set itself up well for the SEC season. Kentucky has already played five matches against teams in the ITA top six, including a 4-3 win at Duke in that span. All four of UK’s losses this seasons have came to teams inside the ITA top six in this week’s rankings.

Senior Tom Jomby is the highest-ranked player on the UK roster, checking in at No. 14 in this week’s rankings, a new career. The Nantes, France, native knocked off No. 2 Guillermo Alcorta 6-3, 4-6, 1-0 on Friday in Oklahoma to push him up five slots from last week’s position. Jomby is 10-1 this season, with his only singles loss coming to No. 1 Ohio State in Columbus. Jomby is the highest-ranked player in singles in the SEC. Also ranked for Kentucky is No. 99 Beck Pennington.

No. 73 LSU enters Friday’s match at 5-3 overall under the direction of 17th-year head coach John Brown. The Tigers are undefeated at 4-0 this season at home, and have won four of their last five matches overall. LSU has played two ranked opponents this season, in No. 19 Vanderbilt and No. 15 Wake Forest, and lost both of those matches, 4-1. Chris Simpson is the only ranked singles player for LSU, as he is currently positioned at No. 109 nationally.

Kentucky and No. 66 Arkansas will square off on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. ET in Fayetteville. The Hogs enter the weekend at 8-6 overall, having won its last two matches overall. Under the direction of first year head coach Andy Jackson, Arkansas is back in the ITA rankings for the first time in over a year. Arkansas has played two ranked opponents this season, losing to No. 20 Texas 7-0, and defeating No. 63 East Tennessee State, 4-3. The Razorbacks will start the weekend on Friday afternoon against Vanderbilt before the Wildcats make their way to Fayetteville on Sunday.

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