Gomez Clincher Powers UK to 4-3 Win Over No. 30 Notre Dame

Feb. 12, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky men’s tennis sophomore Alejandro Gomez earned another match-clinching point and three other ranked Wildcats posted impressive singles wins, as the No. 6 Kentucky men’s tennis team earned its sixth win over a ranked foe this season, defeating No. 30 Notre Dame 4-3 on Sunday at the Eck Tennis Center in Notre Dame, Ind.

“We always have very competitive and well-played matches with Notre Dame, especially when we play up here,” said UK head coach Dennis Emery, who is in his 30th season at the helm of the program. “The things they are good at they do very, very well and that translates well for them indoors. They are a tough team to beat at home and we knew that we were going to have to give a great effort to win today. We have been off to a good start this season, but we haven’t really had any tough road matches. This match will make us better as a team and this win is something that we believe will draw this team closer together.”

Kentucky (9-0) is off to its best start in the 30-year tenure of Emery. Including the win on Sunday over No. 30 Notre Dame, UK has taken down six ranked teams, including No. 12 Pepperdine and No. 22 Tulsa. The Wildcats have also taken down No. 29 Indiana, No. 53 Michigan State and No. 57 North Carolina State. UK’s win over Pepperdine was its 21st over a top-25 ranked team since the start of the 2009 season.

The Wildcats lost the doubles point against Notre Dame (7-4) and had to use a strong effort in singles to claim its ninth win of the season. Sophomore No. 95 Tom Jomby tied the team score 1-1 after his 6-3, 6-1 win over Billy Pecor at No. 4 singles, while senior No. 5 Eric Quigley gave UK a 2-1 lead it would not relinquish, defeating Casey Watt 6-4, 6-3 at No. 1 singles.

Junior No. 36 Anthony Rossi would defeat No. 74 Sam Keeton 6-3, 7-5 at No. 3 singles to give UK a 3-1 lead and set up Gomez to clinch the match for the Wildcats. After winning the first set 6-4, Gomez and Notre Dame senior Niall Fitzgerald battled in a tiebreaker in the second set before Fitzgerald would earn the win to force a third set. In the third set, Gomez earned a key break to go up 5-3 and then held serve to take the set 6-3 and clinch the Kentucky victory.

“We did a great job of competing at the end of the match, especially Alejandro Gomez,” Emery said. “He played with a lot of intensity in the final set, but also played under control, which was great to see. Alejandro’s serve was very good in the final set, which I think made a huge difference in the match. He was playing a very experienced senior who had been in that situation before, so for him to come out with the win really showed a good effort on his part.”

Notre Dame would claim two singles win in the match as Greg Andrews cut UK’s lead to 3-2 by taking down No. 13 Alex Musialek 6-3, 6-2 at No. 2 singles. Sophomore No. 95 Panav Jha also fell in singles action, dropping a three-set match 1-6, 6-0, 6-2 to Blas Moros at No. 5 singles.

Notre Dame took a 1-0 lead after sweeping all three doubles matches to take the doubles point. Play at No. 2 singles ended first when Andrews and Spencer Talmadge defeated Musialek and Gomez 8-1. The Fighting Irish then clinched the doubles point at court three when Keeton and Pecor took down Rossi and Ryuji Hirooka 8-6. UND finished off the sweep when Watt and Fitzgerald edged Quigley and Jha 9-8 (7).

“We came out a little flat in doubles play, which was disappointing,” Emery said. “It put us in a bad situation again where we had to come from behind. That is something that we are going to have to address this week before we head to the National Indoors next weekend.”

The Fighting Irish were coming off an impressive 7-0 home win over Wisconsin on Friday. Before its win over Wisconsin, Notre Dame had played six consecutive road matches with wins over No. 39 Wake Forest, No. 44 Cornell and No. 62 Northwestern. Notre Dame has not lost to a team ranked outside the top 30 all season, falling to No. 6 Kentucky, No. 10 Duke, No. 17 Illinois and No. 29 Indiana.

UK leads the all-time series against Notre Dame 16-12-1, dating back to the two schools first meeting in 1928. This is the second consecutive season the two teams have met with Kentucky winning both matches.

UK will have a few days off before it travels to Charlottesville, Va., to compete in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Team Indoor Championships from Feb. 17-19. Kentucky earned a bid into the event after defeating Tulsa in the ITA Kickoff Weekend. UK has been in the ITA National Indoors three consecutive seasons.

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. 6 Kentucky 4, No. 30 Notre Dame 3
Notre Dame, Ind. - Eck Tennis Center
Sunday, February 12, 2012

1 – No. 5 Eric Quigley (UK) def. Casey Watt (ND) 6-4, 6-3
2 – Greg Andrews (ND) def. No. 13 Alex Musialek (UK) 6-3, 6-2
3 – No. 36 Anthony Rossi (UK) def. No. 74 Sam Keeton (ND) 6-3, 7-5
4 – No. 95 Tom Jomby (UK) def. Billy Pecor (ND) 6-3, 6-1
5 – Blas Moros (ND) def. No. 85 Panav Jha (UK) 1-6, 6-0, 6-2
6 – No. 111 Alejandro Gomez (UK) def. Niall Fitzgerald (ND) 6-4, 6-7 (2-7), 6-3

Doubles competition
1 – Casey Watt/Niall Fitzgerald (ND) def. Panav Jha/Eric Quigley (UK) 9-8 (9-7)
2 – Greg Andrews/Spencer Talmadge (ND) def. Alex Musialek/Alejandro Gomez (UK) 8-1
3 – Sam Keeton/Billy Pecor (ND) def. Anthony Rossi/Ryuji Hirooka (UK) 8-6

Order of finish
Singles: 4,1,3,2,6*,5
Doubles: 2,3*,1