Gomez's Thriller Powers UK to National Indoor Championships

Jan. 28, 2012

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – Behind sophomore No. 111 Alejandro Gomez posting a dominating 6-0 third-set win, the No. 7 University of Kentucky men’s tennis team defeated No. 22 Tulsa 4-1 to seal its third-straight appearance in the National Indoor Team Championships. Gomez’s win on the final day of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Kickoff Weekend on Saturday at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex gave the Wildcats the decisive fourth point of the match.

“Fantastic win for us today,” UK head coach Dennis Emery said. “It was a very intense match and you have to give Tulsa credit because they are a great team. I am happy we get to take this team to the National Indoors because we have made deep runs in that event before, but we feel this team has a great chance to do something special over there.”

The win advances Kentucky (6-0) to the round of 16 of the ITA National Indoor Team Championships, which will be held Feb. 17-20 at the Boar’s Head Tennis Club in Charlottesville, Va. This is the third consecutive season Kentucky has advanced to the round of 16 of the national indoor event. The Wildcats have now made five consecutive rounds of 16 in either the indoor or outdoor team championships. Including this season, UK has advanced to the last three rounds of 16 in the indoor team championships, on top of appearances in the outdoor round of 16 in 2010 and 2011.

With UK holding a 3-1 lead in the match and play at No. 2 and No. 6 singles also in a third set, Gomez took matters into his own hands, dominating Tristan Jackson for a 6-0 win to clinch the match. The sophomore from Cali, Colombia, won the first set 6-3, before Jackson returned the favor in the second set with a 6-3 win. Gomez would break early in the third set to take a 2-0 lead and never looked back, earning the match 6-3, 3-6, 6-0.

“I am really proud of Alejandro Gomez for clinching the match, and I’m particularly happy with how our sophomore class is performing so far this season,” UK associate head coach Cedric Kauffmann said. “I think that class is really growing into great players. Tom Jomby had a good win today and Panav Jha was about to win in the third set as well. We are going to need those three (Gomez, Jomby, Jha) and the rest of that class later on this season so it is good to see how much they have grown.”

Senior No. 13 Alex Musialek and sophomore No. 85 Panav Jha were leading in their third sets at No. 2 and No. 6 singles, respectively, when the team match was clinched. Musialek had just earned a break and was serving with match point over No. 83 Ashley Watling, while Jha was up two breaks 4-0 in the third over Alejandro Sanchez.

“We knew that Tulsa would not go away and they didn’t, they played really well from behind to force third sets on several courts,” Emery said. “But I think we kind of got our second wind in those third sets and were able to take back control of the match.”

Kentucky’s other three points came from straight-set wins in singles action. Sophomore No. 95 Tom Jomby tied the match 1-1 when he took down Lucian Gheorghe at No. 4 singles 6-2, 6-2. Senior No. 5 Eric Quigley gave UK a lead it wouldn’t relinquish at No. 1 singles when he defeated Clifford Marsland 6-3, 6-4, while Rossi showed great poise under pressure in his match, breaking No. 88 Grant Ive to win both sets 7-5, 7-5.

“I think Tom Jomby was one of the keys to the match the way he was able to win his match early and get us some momentum,” Emery said. “Then when Anthony (Rossi) was able to break to win the first set 7-5 that gave us even more momentum.”

The Golden Hurricane earned its lone point in the match in doubles play, getting wins at courts one and two. UK would actually earn the first win in doubles when Musialek and Gomez took down Sanchez and Gheorghe 8-5 at No. 3 doubles. TU would respond, with No. 3 Marsland and Watling earning an 8-6 win at No. 1 doubles before No. 37 Ive and Jackson clinched the point at No. 2 doubles with an 8-6 win over Rossi and Jomby.

“I think that Tulsa is by far the best doubles team we have played all year, but we did an outstanding job of keeping our composure and winning first sets in singles to swing momentum back in our direction,” Emery said.

Tulsa advanced to face Kentucky after a 4-1 win over No. 58 East Tennessee State in the opening round Friday. The Golden Hurricane is 1-4 on the season with all four losses coming to top-20 ranked teams. Tulsa started the year with a 4-3 loss to No. 14 California before dropping another 4-3 contest to No. 6 Stanford last Friday. No. 20 North Carolina gave TU its third loss of the season in a 5-2 win last Sunday before UK gave TU its fourth loss.

UK holds a 3-0 record all-time against Tulsa, dating back to the first-ever meeting in 1983. The win also marked Kentucky’s 20th win over a top-25 opponent dating back to the 2009 season.

Kentucky has been nearly unbeatable at home the past few seasons. Since the 2009 season, UK is an impressive 47-9 at home, including a 4-0 mark this year. The Wildcats were 18-3 at home last season.

This marks the third consecutive season Kentucky has hosted an ITA Kickoff. The Wildcats advanced through the event in each of the previous two seasons and went on to have successful runs at the team championships. UK was one of 15 schools that was chosen to host an ITA Kickoff Weekend event. Those schools were designated as host sites in order of their year-end 2011 Campbell/ITA team ranking.

For more information on the Kentucky men's tennis team, follow "UKmenstennis" on Twitter or "University of Kentucky men's tennis team" on Facebook.

No. 7 Kentucky 4, No. 22 Tulsa 1
ITA Kickoff Weekend – Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012
Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex – Lexington, Ky.

1 – No. 5 Eric Quigley (UK) def. Clifford Marsland (TU) 6-3, 6-4
2 – No. 13 Alex Musialek (UK) led No. 83 Ashley Watling (TU) 6-4, 5-7, 5-3 DNF
3 – No. 36 Anthony Rossi (UK) def. No. 88 Grant Ive (TU) 7-5, 7-5
4 – No. 95 Tom Jomby (UK) def. Lucian Gheorghe (TU) 6-2, 6-2
5 – No. 111 Alejandro Gomez (UK) def. Tristan Jackson (TU) 6-3, 3-6, 6-0
6 – No. 85 Panav Jha (UK) led Alejandro Sanchez (TU) 6-1, 1-6, 4-0 DNF

1 – No. 3 Clifford Marsland/Ashley Watling (TU) def. Eric Quigley/Panav Jha (UK) 8-6
2 – No. 37 Grant Ive/Tristan Jackson (TU) def. Anthony Rossi/Tom Jomby (UK) 8-6
3 – Alex Musialek/Alejandro Gomez (UK) def. Alejandro Sanchez/Lucian Gheorghe (TU) 8-5

Order of Finish
Singles: 4, 1, 3, 5*
Doubles: 3, 1, 2*

No. 57 North Carolina State 4, No. 58 East Tennessee State 0
ITA Kickoff Weekend – Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012
Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex – Lexington, Ky.

1 – Jamie Pulgar (NC State) led Sander Gille (ETSU) 3-6, 7-6 (8), 4-3 DNF
2 – Dominic Hodgson (NC State) def. Jesus Bandres (ETSU) 6-0, 6-4
3 – Robbie Mudge (NC State) def. Juan Ramirez (ETSU) 6-3, 6-4
4 – No. 100 Austin Powell (NC State) def. Jeremy Bonnevalle (ETSU) 6-1, 6-7 (2), 6-3
5 – Rafael Paez (NC State) vs. Roger Ordeig (ETSU) 5-5 DNF
6 – Rogerio Ribeiro (ETSU) led Ivan Sanchez Gomez (NC State) 5-4 DNF

1 – Sander Gille/Jesus Bandres (ETSU) def. Julian Sullivan/Sean Weber (NC State) 9-8 (4)
2 – Dominic Hodgson/Matt Thomson (NC State) def. Juan Ramirez/Jorge Varon (ETSU) 9-8 (5)
3 – Robbie Mudge/Jamie Pulgar (NC State) def. Jeremy Bonnevall/Roger Ordeig (ETSU) 8-3

Order of Finish
Singles: 3, 2, 4*
Doubles: 3, 1, 2*