Rossi Claims SEC Coaches' Indoor Singles Title
LEXINGTON, Ky. - University of Kentucky men's tennis junior Anthony Rossi posted an impressive straight-sets win over 10th-ranked Sadio Doumbia of Georgia to win the singles title and become Kentucky's first singles winner at the event in 23 years, on the final day of the Southeastern Conference Coaches' Indoor Championships on Monday at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex.
"Very happy for Anthony Rossi and how he played this weekend," UK head coach Dennis Emery said. "We preach to our guys for them to play emotional without showing a lot of emotion, and Anthony does that very well. I thought the difference today was how quickly Anthony transitioned from offense to defense. I know that this tournament will give him a lot of confidence as we head into the spring season in the new week or so."
Rossi used a very workmanlike performance Monday to win the final over the highly ranked Doumbia. In the first set, Doumbia and Rossi each held to start before Rossi would break the UGA star at 1-1 and then hold serve the rest of the set to earn the 6-4 win.
The second set featured the exact same layout, as Doumbia and Rossi each held to start the set before the UK junior would earn a key break and then hold serve to gather a 3-1 lead. After both players held serve several more times, Rossi broke Doumbia for the third and final time of the day to earn the second set 6-3 and the match 6-4, 6-3.
"I am proud of how this tournament went for our team this weekend and it really feels good to win the singles title," UK junior Anthony Rossi said. "Sadio is a friend and is a really great player. All of our guys did well in this event and now we have to begin getting ready for dual matches since we have only been playing individual tournaments. This was a perfect way to end this event though."
Rossi becomes the first Kentucky player to win the singles title in the annual event since Adam Malik did it back in 1989. The UK star is only the second player in school history to win the event.
"In 1989 when (Adam) Malik won the event, he was our No. 3 singles player, and this year Anthony is our No. 3 singles player," Emery said. "I think that sometimes in these very competitive events, those players that are in the middle of the seeds play more relaxed and eventually play better. I think that is what you saw from Anthony this weekend."
Rossi, who is ranked 36th in the nation in singles by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, had a great tournament run to the singles title. The native of Marseille, France, defeated two ranked foes and two of the hottest players in the tournament en route to the championship title. Rossi was seeded seventh in the singles main draw and was given a bye in the first round before taking down Ivan Machado of South Carolina 6-1, 6-0 in the second round. In the third round, Rossi defeated No. 102 Charlie Jones of Vanderbilt 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, while in the quarterfinals he posted a 6-0, 6-4 win over William Kallberg of Ole Miss, who knocked out the tournament's overall No. 1 seed Wil Spencer of Georgia on Saturday in straight sets. Finally, Rossi punched his ticket in the finals by earning a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over Nik Scholtz of Ole Miss, who defeated two ranked players en route to the semifinals.
"I think this win and our performance in this tournament gives us a lot of credibility," Emery said. "What it shows our staff is how much deeper we are becoming as a program. Last year, Quigley was in the finals but you would expect that a little bit because he is your No. 1 player and a top-10 player in the country. With Rossi being No. 36 in the nation that really shows you the depth of our program, which is the key to having a great program."
Rossi had a brilliant day of tennis Saturday, defeating Ole Miss players Kallberg and Scholtz. Rossi started his day with the win against Kallberg, breaking to start the first 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 Musialek and Jomby in tight matches in the round of 16 and the quarterfinals, respectively. Scholtz would not defeat a third Wildcat however. After dropping the first set, Rossi and Scholtz held serve throughout the second set 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, earning advantage with an ace before winning the match when Scholtz missed long.
Rossi's appearance in the final marked the second consecutive season UK has had a player in the final of the annual event. Quigley fell in the finals last season, which marked the first finals appearance for a Wildcat in the event since Jesse Witten in 2002.
Kentucky will begin its dual-match season Sunday when it travels to Indianapolis to face Michigan State and IUPUI.
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SEC Coaches' Indoor Main Draw Singles Final
No. 36 Anthony Rossi (Kentucky) def. No. 10 Sadio Doumbia (Georgia) 6-4, 6-3