Rossi Advances to SEC Coaches' Indoors Singles Finals
LEXINGTON, Ky. - After advancing through the quarterfinals with a straight-sets win over William Kallberg of Ole Miss, UK men's tennis junior Anthony Rossi punched his ticket in the singles final by defeating 15th seed Nik Scholtz of Ole Miss on day three of the Southeastern Conference Coaches' Indoor Champions on Sunday. All action Sunday was held at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex on the campus of the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Ky.
Rossi, who is ranked 36th in the nation in singles by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, had a fantastic day on the court taking down two of the tournaments hottest players in Kallberg, who knocked out the tournament's overall No. 1 seed Wil Spencer of Georgia on Saturday in straight sets, and Scholtz, who defeated two ranked players en route to the semifinals.
"Great tournament for Anthony Rossi," UK head coach Dennis Emery said. "He had a great win over (Henrique) Cunha of Duke to start the fall season and then he kind of hurt his arm and wasn't able to play much the next couple of weeks. Now that he has had some rest, it's good to see him back out there and having a breakout tournament like this. Schultz will be one of the best players in the nation this season. He is unranked right now because this is his first tournament of the year."
The native of Marseille, France, started his day with the win against Kallberg. The UK junior came out on fire, breaking to start the set and then rolling on to a 6-0 win in the opening frame. In the second set, Rossi got a quick break again to go up 2-0 and then held serve the rest of the match to win 6-4 and advance to the semifinals.
In the semifinals, Rossi squared off with Scholtz, who had already defeated ranked UK stars Alex Musialek and Tom Jomby in tight matches in the round of 16 and the quarterfinals, respectively. Scholtz would not defeat a third Wildcat however, even though the Ole Miss star took the first set 3-6. In the second set, Rossi and Scholtz held serve throughout until Rossi broke at 5-4 to earn the set 6-4. The Kentucky junior rode that momentum into the third set, jumping up two breaks at 5-1 before Scholtz mounted a furious rally to cut the lead to 5-3. With Rossi serving for the match, Scholtz had break point at 15-40, but Rossi persevered once again to force a deuce, earn advantage with an ace and then win the match when Scholtz missed long.
"The level of play has been so high in this tournament and it's good to see him persevere through so many tough matches," Emery said. "I think that Anthony's results in this tournament are a testament to his strength and confidence. I am also very pleased with the game plan that Cedric Kauffmann put in place for him this weekend."
Rossi's appearance in the final marks the second-consecutive season UK has had a player in the final of the annual event. Senior Eric Quigley fell in the finals last season, which marked the first finals appearance for a Wildcat in the event since Jesse Witten in 2002.
Rossi's final match will be played at Noon ET on Sunday at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex against the tournament's No. 2 seed and 10th-ranked Sadio Doumbia of Georgia. Doumbia defeated Jonas Lutjen in straight sets in the semifinals to earn his spot in the finals. Both Doumbia and Rossi are Frenchmen.
Admission to the final is free of charge, while a live interactive blog will be available for fans during both finals matches Monday, beginning at 10:30 a.m. ET.
No. 5 Quigley and No. 95 Jomby both fell in the quarterfinals of the singles main draw. Quigley would win the first set against No. 98 Lutjen 7-5 before the Ole Miss star returned the favor with a 7-5 win in the second set. In the third set, Quigley earned a break to go up 3-2 before Lutjen broke back to tie the match at 3-3 and eventually broke again to earn a 6-3 win.
"Eric (Quigley) lost to a guy today who really went after his shots in the third set and played very poised in Jonas Lutjen," Emery said. "I think that it was much more of Lutjen beating Eric than it was that Eric beat himself. That will happen sometimes, especially indoors."
Jomby, who played a three-set thriller Saturday in the round of 16 against Gonzalez Austin of Vanderbilt, battled in another three-set match Sunday in the quarterfinals against Scholtz. Scholtz would win the first set in extra games 7-5 before Jomby rallied to win the second set in a tiebreaker 7-6 (5). Scholtz would control most of the third set en route to a 6-2 win and a place in the semifinals against Rossi.
"Although he lost today, I was really happy with Tom Jomby and his performance this weekend," Emery said. "I thought that he played really well and showed so much growth as a player the last few days. He ran out of gas a little bit today against Nik Scholtz, but overall he had a great tournament."
In doubles action, Quigley and sophomore Panav Jha made an impressive run to the main draw semifinals before coming up short in a tight battle against fifth-seeded Marcel Thiemann and Chris Thiemann of Ole Miss. Quigley/Jha, who knocked out the tournament's top seed and fourth-ranked Nassim Slilam and Billy Federhofer of Florida on Saturday, started the day with another quality win, defeating seventh-seeded Ignacio Taboada and Hernus Pieters of Georgia. The UGA duo is not ranked in the nation, however Taboada is ranked ninth in the nation in doubles with Doumbia.
In the doubles semifinal, Kentucky led 7-5 with Quigley serving before the Ole Miss tandem earned a break and eventually won the doubles match 9-7. Thiemann/Thiemann advanced to the semifinal after defeating Musialek and sophomore Alejandro Gomez 9-7 in the quarterfinals.
Gomez, who is ranked No. 111 in singles, also competed in the singles consolation semifinals Sunday, taking down the main draw's ninth seed and No. 64 Pieters of Georgia 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3). The win is one of the best of his young career.
Sophomore Ryuji Hirooka completed UK's play Sunday with a tightly contested loss to Michael Alford of Florida 4-6, 6-3, 10-4 in the singles consolation semifinals. Alford would go on to win the singles consolation title.
For more information on the Kentucky men's tennis team, follow "UKMensTennis" on Twitter or search "University of Kentucky Men's Tennis Team" on Facebook.
SEC Coaches' Indoors Schedule of Play
Monday, Jan. 16
10:30 a.m. Doubles Final
12 p.m. Singles Final