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Kentucky Sports Report (week of May 14)

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Baseball
- After completing a sweep of Alabama to remain in a tie for first atop the SEC standings, Kentucky concludes the regular-season with a four-game road trip during the week, visiting Murray State on Tuesday in a midweek matchup, before heading to Starkville, Miss., for its final SEC series of the year against Mississippi State. UK owns a one-game lead over Western Division leader LSU (17-10) and a half-game lead over South Carolina (17-9). LSU ends the season at South Carolina, starting Thursday at Carolina Stadium.
- With the sweep and the 4-0 week, UK extended its winning streak to five games, becoming the first team in the nation to ascend to 40 wins and regained the NCAA lead in wins. The Wildcats have the second-most wins in program history and its 18 SEC wins ranks second-best in UK annals, behind only the 44-win seasons in 2006 and 2008 and the 20-win SEC Championship season in 2006.
- UK owns a 16-4 record in one-run games and a 12-8 record in games against top-25 teams. The Wildcats have the ability to win the conference for the second time in program history entering the final weekend, which would also secure a bye for the SEC Tournament.
- With the sweep, UK set a new wins record for Cliff Hagan Stadium, finishing 29-5 at home. UK also set a new school record for team saves (18).

Men's tennis

- Dominated both its first and second round matches in the NCAA Tournament against Radford and Indiana, taking down both opponents by the score of 4-0 to advance to its third consecutive Sweet 16 appearance. This is only the second time in school history that UK has advanced to three consecutive Sweet 16s after head coach Dennis Emery led UK to the event from 1987-89.
- UK's win over Indiana is its 13th victory in its last 14 matches, and the eighth consecutive win at home. All told, Kentucky ends the season with an impressive 16-1 record at home and a 62-10 posting at Boone since the start of the 2009 season. The victory moves Kentucky's record to 23-5 this season against ranked foes, while UK's 28 wins in 2012 is one off its school record 29 wins set a season ago.
- Eric Quigley was impressive in singles and doubles action over the weekend, winning both his doubles matches with Panav Jha and both of his singles matches in straight sets. Junior Anthony Rossi went 1-0 on the week in singles along with sophomores Tom Jomby, Alejandro Gomez and Grant Roberts. Rossi's win against Radford was the match clincher, while Roberts' win against IU was the clinching point.
- Kentucky won the doubles point in both matches, moving to 21-0 this season when it wins the doubles point.

Softball
- Kentucky earned a bid into the NCAA Tournament for a school-record fourth consecutive year. UK is one of just 27 teams in the country, including seven in the SEC, to achieve the feat.
- UK's senior class is the only class in program history to advance to postseason play in each of its four seasons of action. The class has also compiled a school-record 135-94 overall record.
- Kentucky dropped its quarterfinal game with No. 11 Georgia in the SEC Tournament on Thursday. Brittany Cervantes homered for the 11th time in UK's last 21 outings to lead the offense as UK rallied from a six-run deficit, but the rally fell short at 6-4. Cervantes along with junior Alice O'Brien both registered a pair of hits.

Track and field

- Andrew Evans threw a mark of 181-09/55.40m in the men's discus finals at the SEC Championships and took home the men's discus title. It is the fifth-straight men's discus title for Kentucky at the SEC Championships.
- Evans led seven different Wildcat men to earn points at the conference meet, with a trio of women scoring points for UK.
- Luis Orta charted 12 points combined with a second-place finish in the steeplechase and a fifth-place finish in the 5,000-meter run.
- Raymond Dykstra (2nd - Javelin); Walter Luttrell (4th - 10,000-meter run); Matt Hillenbrand (5th - 1,500-meter run) and Jennifer Svoboda (5th - Shot put) rounded out the top-five finishes for the Wildcats, as the men finished in eighth overall and the women in 12th.

Women's golf
- The University of Kentucky women's golf team wrapped up its season following a 17th place finish at the Central Regional in Columbus, Ohio, shooting a 75-over-par 939.
- Senior Ashlee Rose concluded her career as a Wildcat with a season-best, even-par 72 in the final round on Saturday, finishing in a tie for 50th at 18-over-par 234. In her career, Rose competed in 106 rounds, seventh most in school history.
- Kentucky's 304.73 season scoring average breaks a school record previously held by the 2008-09 team that earned a 305.23 scoring average.

Upcoming schedule


Tuesday, May 15
Baseball at Murray State - 7:00 p.m.

Thursday, May 17
Baseball at Mississippi State - 7:30 p.m.

Friday, May 18
Softball vs. Michigan - 4:30 p.m. (Louisville, Ky.)
Baseball at Mississippi State - 8:00 p.m.
Men's tennis vs. Stanford - Round of 16 (Athens, Ga.)

Saturday, May 19
Baseball at Mississippi State - 3:00 p.m.
Softball at NCAA Regionals (Louisville, Ky.)

Sunday, May 20
Softball at NCAA Regionals (Louisville, Ky.)
Men's tennis NCAA Quarterfinals (Athens, Ga.)

Eric Quigley, with wins in singles and doubles, helped lead UK to a 4-0 victory in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Eric Quigley, with wins in singles and doubles, helped lead UK to a 4-0 victory in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
With his team's NCAA Tournament life on the line against Indiana, the last place Dennis Emery wanted Eric Quigley was on the sidelines.

Or so he thought.

Kentucky's all-time wins leader spent more time as a cheerleader than on the court, posting singles and doubles victories well before any of his teammates finished their own matches. After prevailing 8-3 alongside partner Panav Jha in doubles, he breezed through a never-in-doubt singles match, 6-1, 6-0, a score that somehow didn't even do his performance justice.

Quigley wasted no time moving to support his teammates, and he was greeted by a sight he could hardly believe.

"I walked off the court and I saw Anthony Rossi on court three was like two-all, two-one and I was like, 'That can't be right,' Quigley said. "But it was."

With Quigley anchoring the lineup, the No. 6 Wildcats (27-5) dispatched the visiting Hoosiers to advance to their third Sweet 16 in a row, an achievement not lost on anyone involved.

"He played fantastic in singles and doubles and I think it's a real credit for him," Emery said. "It's a huge match for us. This is the third straight year we've gone to the Sweet 16. They understand all that that means."

With each successive match potentially being the last of Quigley's decorated career, it would be understandable if he placed an inordinate amount of pressure on himself to play well. Instead, he summarily dismissed Isade Juneau, continuing his steak of singles matches without a loss that dates to March 19.

"You have a tendency to maybe think he's going to play a little tight," Emery said. "Just the opposite. He really turned it loose. Maybe not necessarily a great matchup for him at (court) one, but he really took care of business."

Afterwards Quigley, currently ranked third nationally as a singles player, confirmed what everyone who watched him play on Saturday already knew: that he played very well, even by his lofty standards.

"I'm pretty pleased with how I played in singles and doubles today," Quigley said. "It was a quick match, but there's just some days you feel like you can't do anything wrong. I feel like today is one of those days."

In two NCAA Tournament singles matches thus far, Quigley is yet to lose a set, dropping just four games in the process. That comes in stark contrast to last year's tournament run, when UK advanced to the Elite Eight in spite of Quigley losing three times in four singles matches.

Clearly, Quigley has improved his game since then, but he credits reaching a new level of play to his teammates as much anything else. With a deeper lineup and improvement in doubles, Quigley doesn't go into his matches thinking winning or losing will come down to how he fares.

"I really had a good season and it's also really good knowing we're so deep this year one through six," Quigley said. "It really doesn't matter if I win or lose, we can get four other points for sure. I think that's taken a lot off my shoulders this year."

Between the way Quigley and the rest of the Cats are playing, their goals are certainly within reach.

"We're not done," Quigley said. "We really want to keep going and improve on what we did last year and we don't want to end anytime soon. Our goal is to win it all, so anything less, we'll kind of be a little disappointed."

Even so, there are plenty of talented teams and players that could put a premature end to Quigley's career, but the fact that UK is now in position to contend on an annual basis will remain no matter what. Quigley has had a lot to do with that.

"There's almost no way you can describe what he's done for our program. I think he took it from, you know, we had a good culture, but now we have a championship culture."

Dennis Emery



Eric Quigley




Grant Roberts






Senior Eric Quigley led UK to a 4-0 victory over Radford in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Senior Eric Quigley led UK to a 4-0 victory over Radford in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
The sixth-ranked Kentucky men's tennis opened the NCAA Tournament with an impressive 4-0 sweep over Radford Friday afternoon. But even as heavy favorites, head coach Dennis Emery felt the match left something to be desired. 

"You know, I think we really have to pick it up tomorrow," said Emery, "if we're going to be the team in the postseason that we want to be. We've been the team that we wanted to be all year, but we didn't quite see that intensity today. That's a concern."

It could have been the fact that UK was the top team in the regional facing a less talented Radford team, or it could have been because Kentucky had not competed in nearly three weeks. But in order for the Wildcats to be that team they have been and get where they want to go, it's imperative that Emery's bunch tighten the screws heading into Saturday's match against Indiana.

The Hoosiers took care of the Louisville Cardinals in their first-round meeting, 4-2. They will take their chances against the host Wildcats, a familiar opponent that they faced early this season. Kentucky took the initial matchup 7-0, but in the indoor part of the complex in a match that was closer than the score indicates.

Emery said he plans to look back to their earlier meeting for scouting purposes, but that many things have changed since then.

"We played Indiana earlier. It's a completely different match," said Emery. "The thing about those early-season matchups are that you play them indoors, so you're playing on, now, different surfaces. And most of the time you have completely different matchups than in February. So, even though you win early on, there's certainly no guarantees later in the year."

Kentucky was carried by their SEC Player of the Year, Eric Quigley. Quigley and doubles teammate Panav Jha started things off with a win in doubles to help give UK the doubles point. The No. 3 player in the nation then breezed through his singles opponent Nick Sayer in straight sets (6-2, 6-1). 

The Wildcats also picked up an 8-3 win from the doubles duo Tom Jomby and Alejandro Gomez. Anthony Rossi (6-2, 6-0) and Gomez (6-2, 6-1) also notched wins after Quigley completed his match to finish off the 4-0 sweep. 

Despite the lack of team intensity, Quigley was proud of the way his team fought and took care of business in the first round despite a large break between matches.

"I wanted to get out to a good start knowing it's been a couple weeks since we played," said Quigley. "I thought both teams would a little rusty, not at the top of their game knowing there's been a big break. But I'm pretty pleased with the way I played, and overall I think we're pretty happy to get through and get on against Indiana."

Like Emery, Quigley also sensed a bit of a lack of team enthusiasm overall. After getting the first one under their belt, however, Quigley thinks they will get back to being that energetic bunch the Cats have been all year.

"I think we all do a good job when we're very vocal and loud and help each other out," said Quigley. "I think we could have done a better job of that today, but I think we'll do that pretty well tomorrow."

Regardless of how Kentucky played or carried themselves on the court Friday, Emery was pleased that they still managed to take care of business in a swift manner. That certainly bodes well for Kentucky, as the host team, who is forced by rule to play the second match of the day Friday. That extra rest accrued by making quick work of Radford could be the key to a victory over the Hoosiers Saturday at 2 p.m.

"It's certainly important," Emery said of putting Radford away early. "It's still kind of hot. It's not break-your-back hot or cramping hot, but it's hot. So you want to get out and get the notch under your belt and get off and get rested."


Dennis Emery



Eric Quigley





Cat Scratches caught up with head coach Dennis Emery and all-time singles wins leader Eric Quigley on the eve of men's tennis' run in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats will play host to the Radford Highlanders at the Boone Tennis Complex on Friday at 3 p.m. as they look to begin their run toward what they hope will be the first Final Four in school history.

Emery and Quigley talked about the tournament, the weeks off preceding it, the advantage of hosting and Quigley's legacy in the two videos below. Stay tuned this weekend of coverage.

Emery



Quigley



Following UK Athletics, it's easy to get wrapped up in wins and losses, but every once in a while, you read something that puts sports back into perspective.

Jen Smith's story about former men's tennis player and current volunteer assistant coach Matt Emery is one of those, but it does so in a different way. Most such stories serve as a reminder of the insignificance of sports, but this one shows how powerful they can be.

Emery, when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer last year, returned to his alma mater with his wife, Sara, to get treatment at the Markey Cancer Center and coach under his father, Dennis. The two Emery's have helped lead UK to an historical season while Matt has battled his disease:

One thing that helps keep Matt going, helps sustain his smile, is seeing the success that Kentucky is having in men's tennis.

Dennis, the Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year, is having his best season in the 30 years he's coached at UK.

His team is No. 6 in the nation and went 11-0 for the first time in school history in SEC regular-season play.

"I'm just so happy for him," Matt said of his father. "It's really cool to see him have this success. He deserves it so much."

It hasn't been the easiest of years for Dennis or his wife, Brenda. While one son battles cancer, another son, Andrew, is overseas as a Marine (special operations) in Afghanistan. Andrew left for his second tour in January.

When asked if this season's success was somehow lessened because of the stressful things happening to those he loves most, Dennis quickly shakes his head side to side.

"It hasn't been bittersweet," Dennis said with a smile that looks a lot like his son's. "It's been really, really sweet."

Kentucky earned an at-large bid into this year's NCAA Tournament and will host the first two rounds starting Friday at the Boone Tennis Center.

Matt will be courtside with his father and assistant coach Cedric Kauffmann trying to help UK advance.

As a volunteer assistant coach, Matt has been invaluable, Dennis said.

"He's really good on the court and during the matches," Dennis said. "He's very perceptive. He played at this level. He played here in the SEC. He's young enough to understand the emotions of what's going on."

UK will open play in the NCAA Tournament on Friday at 3 p.m., but more importantly, Matt's prognosis for a full recovery is good.

LINK: TENNIS, OPTIMISM HELPING FORMER UK PLAYER EMERY FIGHT OFF CANCER

Postseason at hand for spring sports

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The clock is ticking down on this year in UK Athletics.

Baseball is the only team still in regular season play, while men's tennis, softball, track and field, women's golf and men's golf are all preparing for postseason play. You can find more information on each one at the individual sport pages, but I figured I would compiled and summarize information on how to follow all of your Wildcat teams in the postseason.

Men's tennis - Hosting NCAA Tournament beginning Friday


For the fourth consecutive season, UK was chosen to host first and second round matches. Kentucky, the No. 6 overall seed in the tournament, will open their NCAA run against No. 75 Radford (20-5) 3 p.m. Friday at the Boone Tennis Complex. Should the Cats win, they will advance to meet the victor between Indiana (21-8) and Louisville (18-9), a match that will be played on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Boone Tennis Complex.

Tickets are still available and you can visit Tourney Central http://www.ukathletics.com/ncaatennis/ for more information. For those unable to attend, there are plenty of ways to keep up with the action:


If UK advances past the second round, it will travel to Athens, Ga., for the Sweet 16.

Softball - Opens SEC Tournament on Thursday

With a late-season surge, UK earned the fifth seed in the SEC Tournament and the right to face fourth-seeded Georgia at 5 p.m. ET on Thursday in Tuscaloosa, Ala. All tournament games will be carried live on the ESPN family of networks with UK's first round game on ESPNU and ESPN3.

Just a couple weeks ago, it appeared the SEC Tournament may be UK's last chance to qualify for NCAAs, but the Wildcats are now two games over .500 and likely to reach the NCAA Tournament even with a first-round loss in the SEC. Stay tuned to the blog this evening, because we will have a feature on senior Rachel Riley to preview the tournament.

Track and field - Preparing for SEC Championships

The track and field team is already in Baton Rouge, La., where the Wildcats will participate in the SEC Outdoor Championships. The event begins on Thursday and lasts through Sunday. Metz Camfield is traveling with the team and will have updates on UKathletics.com. Also, follow @KentuckyTrack on Twitter as the Cats look to improve on an eighth-place finish at SEC Indoors.

Women's golf - NCAA bound

Last week, the women's golf team learned its NCAA Tournament path, and the Wildcats will be heading to Columbus, Ohio for the Central Regional of the NCAA Women's Golf Championship, which begins on Thursday and lasts through Saturday. The Cats will be part of a 24-team field that includes six other SEC teams as they look to finish a strong 2012 during which they've bested the school record for team scoring average by nearly two strokes.

Men's golf - Awaiting NCAA fate

The Wildcats, after a seventh-place finish in the SEC Championships, are hoping to earn their first NCAA Regional berth since 2009. If UK does hear its name called, Regionals will take place May 17-19.

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