UK men’s tennis awarded No. 5 overall seed in NCAA Tournament and will host this weekend

The University of Kentucky men’s tennis team is the No. 5 overall seed in the 64-team NCAA Tournament and will start its quest for a national championship in Lexington on Friday and Saturday this week.

Kentucky (24-2) is seeded behind only No. 1 Ohio State, No. 2 Texas, No. 3 Virginia and No. 4 TCU.

The Wildcats, winners of the Southeastern Conference regular season and tournament championships, will host three other schools for first-round matches Friday at UK’s Hilary J. Boone Tennis Center.

Toledo (14-10) will face Illinois (16-9) at 1 p.m., followed by Kentucky vs. DePaul (14-9) at 4 p.m. The winners meet Saturday at 4 p.m. with a spot in the NCAA Sweet 16 at stake.

Sixteen teams were named as seeds for the NCAA Tournament. Joining the top five in that group are No. 6 Wake Forest, No. 7 Tennessee, No. 8 Columbia, No. 9 Arizona, No. 10 Florida State, No. 11 Oklahoma, No. 12 Harvard, No. 13 Duke, No. 14 North Carolina State, No. 15 Texas A&M and No. 16 Mississippi State.

Joining Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Mississippi State from the SEC in the 64-team field are Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

This year’s NCAA Tournament bid is Kentucky’s eighth in a row and its 10th under head coach Cedric Kauffmann. UK was the No. 4 seed in last year’s tournament, falling to Virginia 4-2 in the Elite Eight.

If UK defeats DePaul, it could face Illinois for a second time this season. The Wildcats beat the Fighting Illini 4-3 on Jan. 20 in Champaign, Ill.

Also during the nonconference regular season, Kentucky beat NCAA Tournament seeds Virginia and Harvard at home and lost at Duke. The Wildcats swept through conference play undefeated but were beaten by Alabama in the 2024 ITA Kickoff Weekend in Lexington, which was not counted toward the league standings.

Kentucky has won 17 matches in a row since falling at Duke on Feb. 11.

Super senior Taha Baadi is Kentucky’s highest-ranked singles player in the most recent ITA Collegiate Tennis Rankings, coming in at No. 30. Senior Joshua Lapadat is No. 97. UK’s doubles team of Lapadat and redshirt senior JJ Mercer is ranked No. 4 nationally.

The NCAA Tournament brackets for singles and doubles play were to be drawn later.

Murray State (17-5) was the only school from Kentucky to earn a berth in the 64-team women’s NCAA Tournament bracket, which was also drawn Monday night. The Racers, regular season and tournament champions in the Missouri Valley Conference, will open play at No. 16 seed Tennessee (18-7) on Saturday.