LEXINGTON, Ky. – Second-year men’s tennis head coach Cedric Kauffmann announced his 2014 recruiting class on Tuesday afternoon, which includes three of the top players in the country, and one of the most internationally renowned recruits including blue-chip recruits, five-star players and student-athletes representing two countries, in the United States and Mexico.
“I’m really excited to introduce these players as the newest members of the University of Kentucky men’s tennis team. This starts a new cycle of players for us,” Kauffmann said. “We are looking at this class as a difference-maker. These boys are talented, athletic, fun to watch and winners on and off the court, which is what we are looking for here at Kentucky. We cannot wait for them to be on campus and start working with them as soon as they arrive in Lexington. We want to compete and push for championships in this program, and we are confident these student-athletes will help us do that.”
The first recruit hauled in by Kauffmann and Emery is Gerardo “Jerry” Lopez from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Lopez is ranked No. 156 in the world junior ATP rankings and has obtained an ATP point in Mexico. Lopez lost in the second round of the main draw in the U.S. Open Juniors to the No. 1 player in the world, 7-5 in the third set. He has tallied several top-20 wins and has spent time at various US tennis camps.
“Kentucky was the best stepping stone for my tennis career and the best place for me to continue to grow and develop as a person on and off the court,” Lopez said. “I’m excited to join the Wildcat family and start learning from Coach Kauffmann and Coach Emery.”
Lopez is the son of his mother and father, Laura and Raul, and has a sister, Karla.
“We are ecstatic to have Jerry join Kentucky,” Kauffmann said. “He is already a great player with an unbelievable amount of talent. He has excellent size, strength, serve and solid groundstrokes that we look forward to working with him on. He will be able to play with the best of players in college tennis. He is extremely athletic and brings the whole package on and off the court to the team.”
Trey Yates joins Kentucky as a blue-chip recruit from Dunwoody, Ga. Yates is slotted No. 16 in the national rankings according to TennisRecruiting.net and No. 2 in the southeast region. Yates is an impressive 23-10 all-time against 5-star recruits and 20-0 against 4-star and below players nationally. Yates is Kentucky’s first blue-chip rated recruit since All-American Eric Quigley (2009-12), who now leads the program in career wins. Yates also was ranked No. 1 in the southeast in recent times.
“Kentucky was a top SEC school and that’s something I was looking for in the recruiting process,” Yates said. “I have a very good relationship with Coach Kauffmann and Coach Emery, and I absolutely loved the players on the team when I came to visit. I feel that UK provides me with a great opportunity to grow my game and take it to the next level.”
“We think that Trey has an unbelievable upside,” Kauffmann said. “He is simply put, a winner. And that is what we are looking for here at Kentucky. He has lot of toughness and an incredible work ethic on and off the court that is going to tremendously help our team. He has a high ceiling of potential, and is going to be a great player here at UK.”
Yates’ mother is Mindy Yates, father is Richard Yates, and he has two sisters, Lucy and Abbey.
William Bushamuka from Princeton, N.J., signs onto Kentucky as a five-star prospect and the No. 5 ranked recruit from New Jersey, according to TennisRecruiting,net. Bushamuka is 1-1 vs. blue-chip recruits and 1-0 against five-star recruits this season in his matches. He is ranked No. 141 nationally in the United States and No. 278 in the world, according to TennisRecruiting.net. Bushamuka comes to Kentucky with a great family background, as he is supported by his mother and father, Victor Bushamuka and Lauren Blum, and 13-year-old brother, Daniel.
“I chose to come to Kentucky because of all the diversity on the team,” Bushamuka said. “I wanted to compete at a high level, and the SEC provides me that chance to become the best player I can be, I loved the strong winning tradition at UK and the level of play from the team drew me in.”
“William is an unbelievable athlete that has a lot of weapons that we are looking to build around,” Emery said. “The one thing that stood out to me was his fearlessness on the court and that attracted us to him in the recruiting process. There are no better athletes in the NCAA than William and we are going to be working with him on his mental endurance, strategy, fitness and preparation for matches.”
Jake Stefanik joins Kentucky out of the Chrissie Evert Tennis Academy in Boca Roton, Fla. Stefanik is ranked No. 51 nationally by TennisRecruiting,net and has reached as high as No. 323 in the International Tennis Federation rankings. Stefanik has defeated many top-level opponents, including his career-defining win over Michael Mmoh, 6-3, 6-2, who is currently No. 19 in the ITF world rankings. He has a mother, Jayme, and a father, Rick who both reside in Florida. He also has two siblings, a brother and a sister, who reside in Floyd, Va., and Greenville, S.C., respectfully.
“We could not be more excited for Jake to become a Wildcat,” Kauffmann said. “He was the first to sign of this class, and really set the tone for this recruiting class. He is going to be one of the toughest outs in college tennis when he comes to Lexington and starts to work on his game. He is going to be a critical component of our next championship run and we are looking forward to working with him the minute he steps on campus.”
“Jake is going to be a fun player to coach,” Emery said. “He has a set of fantastic fundamentals coming in, and I can’t wait to work with him on improving as an overall player. He has unlimited potential as a college tennis player and we are excited to have him choose Kentucky over some great schools.”
For continuing coverage of UK men’s tennis, log on to UKathletics.com.