LEXINGTON, Ky. – After a weekend at the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s National Indoor Championships in Seattle, in which he was responsible for five points, University of Kentucky freshman Kevin Lai was named the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week, it was announced on Wednesday morning by the league office.
Lai was inserted into the singles line-up for the first time against a ranked team this past weekend, as he took down Pedro Dumont of No. 10 Mississippi State 6-3, 6-4 before knocking off Eric Diaz of Georgia 6-2, 6-3 in the Wildcats 4-2 win over No. 6 Georgia. Lai went 3-0 this week overall in singles, as the Taiwanese freshman collected a 6-3, 6-7, 6-1 win over Juanjo de la Llera of Eastern Kentucky on Tuesday night.
In doubles action with Tom Jomby, Lai went 2-1 on the week as the duo picked up a win over No. 13 Jordan Angus and Malte Stroppe of Mississippi State in UK’s dominating 4-0 win over the tenth-ranked Bulldogs. Lai and Jomby also collected an 8-6 win on Tuesday over Notre Dame’s number one doubles team of No. 15 Greg Andrews and Spencer Tamaladge. Lai and Jomby were on serve at 7-7 with the No. 5 doubles team in the country of Hernus Pieters and Ben Wagland of Georgia.
The weekly honor is the second in three weeks for the UK men’s tennis team, as Tom Jomby took home SEC Player of the Week honors two weeks ago after going 3-0 with two wins over ranked opponents in UK’s win over No. 42 Michigan State and No. 17 Texas.
Kentucky escalated up to No. 6 this week in the latest ITA team rankings, which sets a new season-high ranking for the Wildcats. Kentucky’s highest ranking a year ago in its SEC Championship season was sixth as well.
The Wildcats return to the courts for a doubleheader on Sunday asthe outdoor season gets underway. UK will travel to Birmingham, Ala., for a pair of Sunday matches with Samford and Jacksonville State at 10:00 a.m. CT and 2:00 p.m. CT. Kentucky is 10-2 on the season with wins over seven teams ranked in the top 50 and 3-1 versus teams in the top 10.