No. 7 Kentucky Claims SEC Home Opener over No. 33 Gamecocks

March 9, 2012

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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The seventh-ranked University of Kentucky men’s tennis team used an impressive performance in both singles and doubles Friday to earn a convincing 6-1 victory in its Southeastern Conference home opener against No. 33 South Carolina at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex.

The win was UK’s 10th over a ranked foe this season and it third consecutive. Kentucky (14-3, 3-0 SEC) began SEC play with wins over then-No. 17 LSU and then-No. 47 Arkansas. The win over LSU was Kentucky’s 23rd over a top-25 team since the start of the 2009 season. The Wildcats have also earned wins over then-No. 11 Texas A&M, No. 12 Pepperdine, No. 22 Tulsa, No. 29 Indiana, No. 30 Notre Dame, No. 53 Michigan State and No. 57 North Carolina State.

“This is a very good win for us,” UK head coach Dennis Emery said. “We played really well today and it was probably one of the best matches we have played this season. I was happy with how we came out and set the tone on almost every court, and then we closed out the match. We have struggled at times this year with closing out matches, so I was happy to see us do that today. South Carolina is a rapidly improving team and they continue to get better every match they play. We were fortunate today that we got them indoors and that we got them so early in the season.”

The match started with UK winning the doubles point to take a 1-0 lead in the overall match. Sophomores Tom Jomby and Alejandro Gomez started doubles action with a dominating 8-1 win at No. 3 doubles over Kyle Koch and Andrew Adams. UK senior Alex Musialek and junior Anthony Rossi teamed up for the first time this season in doubles to clinch the point, defeating Ivan Machado and Thiago Pinheiro 8-4 at No. 2 doubles. South Carolina did earn a win at No. 1 doubles when Chip Cox and Nick Jones took down No. 27 Eric Quigley and Panav Jha 8-6. The Wildcats have won four straight doubles points and are 10-0 this season when they win doubles.

Kentucky continued to perform well in singles, winning five of the six singles matches to roll to the 6-1 victory. No. 98 Jomby was the first to finish in singles, defeating Cox at court four. Jomby and Cox held serve to start the first set before Jomby earned three-straight games to grab the 6-3 win. In the second set, Cox used his serve to keep Jomby in check before the UK star grabbed a key break to go up 6-5 and then held serve to clinch the match 6-3, 7-5.

Quigley gave Kentucky a 3-0 lead at No. 1 singles when he took down yet another ranked foe in straight sets. Quigley, who is ranked sixth in the nation in singles, dominated the first set, and grabbed an early break in the second set, before Jones broke back to tie the set 2-2. Quigley would respond by breaking Jones right back and then holding serve the rest of the set for the 6-1, 6-4 victory.

Musialek, who is ranked 16th in the nation in singles, secured the Wildcats’ win with a victory over Adams at No. 2 singles. The native of Dax, France, grabbed early breaks in both sets to roll to the 6-2, 6-2 win. It was the second time this season that Musialek had clinched the match for Kentucky.

Sophomores Grant Roberts and No. 107 Gomez added Kentucky’s fifth and sixth points of the match, respectively. Roberts took down Kyle Koch 6-3, 6-3, while Gomez defeated Pinheiro at No. 5 singles 6-4, 7-5. South Carolina’s lone win came at No. 3 singles when Machado defeated No. 14 Rossi in a three-set match that ended in a 10-point super tiebreaker.

The Wildcats are now 7-0 at home this season and have won an impressive 13-straight home matches dating back to last season. UK has been nearly unbeatable at home the past few season, posting a 53-9 record at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex since the start of the 2009 season. The win over South Carolina (10-3, 0-3 SEC) increased UK leads in the all-time series to 23-11.

UK will be in action again Sunday when it completes the doubleheader weekend with a match against No. 9 Florida. The match is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex. Live scores from the match will be available at UKathletics.com. Admission to all men’s tennis home matches is free of charge.

Florida (9-4, 2-1 SEC) enters the match after a dominating win over No. 49 Vanderbilt on Friday in Nashville. The Gators defeated Tennessee 4-3 in its conference opener last weekend before dropping a tight 4-3 decision to No. 6 Georgia. The Gators have two ranked singles players in No. 51 Bob van Overbeek and No. 70 Spencer Newman. UF has three ranked doubles teams in No. 8 Nassim Slilam and Billy Federhofer, No. 18 Tripper Carleton and Newman and No. 43 van Overbeek and Andrew Butz.

The Wildcats and Gators played three thrilling matches last season with Kentucky winning two of the three contests. UK earned a 4-3 win over Florida during the lone regular-season showdown, which marked UK’s first regular-season win in Gainesville since 1988. The two faced off again in the SEC Tournament finals in Gainesville with Florida posting a 4-0 win. Kentucky got revenge in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, defeating Florida 4-2 to roll on to the quarterfinals of the event. UF leads the all-time series 36-14.

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 6, No. 33 South Carolina 1
Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex – Lexington, Ky.
Friday, March 9, 2012

Singles
1 – No. 6 Eric Quigley (UK) def. No. 92 Nick Jones (USC) 6-1, 6-4
2 – No. 16 Alex Musialek (UK) def. Andrew Adams (USC) 6-2, 6-2
3 – Ivan Machado (USC) def. No. 14 Anthony Rossi (UK) 6-4, 2-6, 1-0 (10-5)
4 – No. 98 Tom Jomby (UK) def. Chip Cox (USC) 6-3, 7-5
5 – No. 107 Alejandro Gomez (UK) vs. Thiago Pinheiro (USC) 6-4, 7-5
6 – Grant Roberts (UK) def. Kyle Koch (USC) 6-3, 6-3

Doubles
1 – Chip Cox/Nick Jones (USC) def. No. 27 Eric Quigley/Panav Jha (UK) 8-6
2 – Anthony Rossi/Alex Musialek (UK) def. Ivan Machado/Thiago Pinheiro (USC) 8-4
3 – Tom Jomby/Alejandro Gomez (UK) def. Kyle Koch/Andrew Adams (USC) 8-1

Order of Finish
Singles – 4, 1, 2*, 3, 6, 5
Doubles – 3, 2*, 1