Quigley Marches on to Finals of SEC Coaches Championships

Jan. 16, 2011

LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky men’s tennis star Eric Quigley defeated two ranked players in No. 47 Sadio Doumbia of Georgia and No. 21 JP Smith of Tennessee, punching his ticket to the finals of the Southeastern Conference Coaches Indoor Championships in Knoxville, Tenn., on Sunday.

The singles final will be played at 10 a.m. ET on Monday at the Goodfriend Indoor Tennis Center at the University of Tennessee. Quigley will play No. 9 seed Wil Spencer of Georgia in the finals. Spencer is ranked 53rd in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association preseason singles poll. The two have never met in college. Spencer took down No. 3-seed and 13th-ranked Javier Garrapiz in the semifinals 6-1, 6-4 to advance to the final.

Quigley, ranked second in the country in the ITA preseason singles poll had a very impressive day at the tournament, taking down two quality players, including one of the best players in the country in Smith in the semifinals. The native of Pewee Valley, Ky., started the semifinal matchup in style, claiming a lead and taking the first set 6-3. In the second set, Smith found his footing early, jumping out to a quick 3-0 lead and looked to be in control of the match but Quigley responded, winning two straight games to cut Smith’s lead to 3-2. After Smith held serve to make it 4-2, Quigley won three straight games, including breaking Smith twice to take a 5-4 lead. Smith would then hold serve to tie the match at 5-5 but Quigley answered back, holding serve to take a 6-5 lead and then breaking Smith to win the second set 7-5 and claim the match 6-3, 7-5.

“Eric just came out and really got off to good start in the first set,” head coach Dennis Emery said. “But then in the second set, JP picked up his game and got some momentum going. I was proud of Eric though, because he kept fighting and picked his game up ever more and was able to get a win in the second set to win the match.”

The win over Smith marked the second consecutive victory for Quigley over Smith, who was ranked first in the country this fall before the Kentucky junior knocked off Smith in the USTA/ITA Ohio Valley Regional. Quigley has won four matches en route to the finals. All four wins were straight-set victories.

“Eric is playing very well right now,” Emery said. “He is someone who as he gets farther into the tournament he really becomes a tough out. He struggles a little bit early on in tournaments, but once he gets some play under his belt and the fell for things he just gets better and better.”

Quigley started the day with a victory over eight-seeded Doumbia, taking the first in a sweep 6-0 and then finishing the match in the second set 6-2. The win marked the second consecutive year he has earned a spot into the semifinals of the SEC Coaches Indoor Championships. This will be Quigley’s first finals appearances in the annual event.

“Quigley played flawless in his first match,” Emery said. “He never lost serve, which was the big key of the match. He played as clean a match as he could have possible played and he needed to because Sadio is a very good player.”

The finals appearance for Quigley marks the first time that Kentucky has been represented in the finals of the SEC Coaches Indoor Championship since four-time All-American Jesse Witten played in the finals in 2002.

Fellow junior Alex Musialek fell in his quarterfinals match against No. 3-seed Garrapiz of Georgia. Musialek, ranked 39th in singles, and Garrapiz had a hard-fought first set with the Bulldog getting the win in extra frames 7-5. Garrapiz then kept the momentum going in the second set to win 6-4 and take the match 7-5, 6-4.

“Musialek and Garrapiz had a great match between two really good college players that understand the court and how to play the game,” Emery said.”They played for two hours and 45 minutes with a lot of long rallies. I was proud of how Musialek played and the toughness he showed, unfortunately he came out on the short end of this one.”

Kentucky freshman Grant Roberts continued his strong start to the season, defeating Campbell Johnson in the quarterfinals of the singles consolation bracket. The native of Lexington, Ky., took the first set 6-2 before Johnson turned the tables and won the second set 6-2 to force a 10-point super tiebreaker. Roberts went on to win the tiebreaker and take the match 6-2, 2-6, 1-0. The freshman advances to play in the semifinals of the consolation bracket Monday at 9 a.m. ET.

“Grant continues to play well and is making a statement for some playing time for the rest of the spring in dual matches,” Emery said. “He is playing really well right now for a freshman and was solid off the ground today. He has had a good tournament so far.”