Men's Tennis Continues Streak, Defeats No. 10 Mississippi State
April 6, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. – After a dominating performance in both singles and doubles action, the sixth-ranked University of Kentucky men’s tennis team continued its impressive run in Southeastern Conference play, defeating No. 10 Mississippi State 6-1 on Friday at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex in Lexington, Ky.
The win moves Kentucky to 21-4 on the season, including a 9-0 mark in SEC play. The 9-0 mark in league play is the best in school history for the Wildcats. UK started the 1988 season 8-0 in the SEC, which was the previous school record. UK’s 9-0 record ranks the Wildcats first in the league, one game ahead of No. 4 Georgia, who is 8-1.
“We played one of our best matches of the year today,” UK head coach Dennis Emery said. “It’s always great to play a great match at home and I think we certainly did that today. Mississippi State is a fantastic team and we knew it was going to be a tough match. If we don’t win those tiebreakers then this match could have been different. Overall, we are pleased with this performance.”
The win continues Kentucky’s solid showing against quality opponents. The Wildcats hold an impressive 8-3 record against teams currently ranked in the top 25, including four wins over top-10 teams. Since the start of the 2009 season, UK has earned an impressive 28 wins over top-25 teams.
The Wildcats have been very impressive at home the past few seasons, posting a 57-10 record at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex since the start of the 2009 season. UK is 11-1 at home this year, including a 4-0 mark against SEC foes.
Kentucky started the match with a strong showing in doubles, winning both doubles matches that ended in a decision. Sophomores Alejandro Gomez and Tom Jomby were the first to end when they posted an 8-3 win over Zach White and Ethan Wilkinson at No. 3 doubles. The Wildcats clinched the doubles point at court two when senior Alex Musialek and junior Anthony Rossi grabbed an 8-6 win over No. 43 George Coupland and Artem Ilyushin. UK is now 15-0 this season when it wins the doubles point.
“I thought a huge key to the match was that we came out and played very, very well in all three doubles,” Emery said. “We got up two breaks on all three courts, which gave us a little bit of a cushion.”
The Wildcats continued to perform well in singles action, winning five of the six singles matches. Sophomore Grant Roberts was the first to finish in singles, taking down White at court six. Roberts started the match by winning the first set in a tiebreaker 7-6 (8), before rolling in the second set 6-1 to earn the win and give UK a 2-0 lead.
Gomez gave Kentucky a 3-0 lead in the match with his thrilling three-set win at No. 5 singles. Gomez, a native of Cali, Colombia, won the first set in impressive fashion, dominating No. 46 Coupland 6-1. The Mississippi State star responded in the second set, earning a 6-3 win, before Gomez was able to pull away in the third set to grab the match 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.
“Very happy with the performance of Alejandro Gomez tonight,” Emery said. “He really played a tough second set, but came back strong in the third to grab the point. His performance helped set our team up for the win. I am so proud of how he fought hard and played today.”
Rossi, who is ranked 22nd in the nation in singles, clinched the match for Kentucky at court three over No. 67 Malte Stropp. Rossi won the first set in a tiebreaker 7-6 (4), before getting up a break in the second set en route a 6-3 win.
“We did a really good job finishing today,” Emery said. “Our seniors and our juniors did a really good job finishing up the match. Grant Roberts did a really good job of winning the first set tiebreaker, and then jumping on the guy at the start of the second set. It made a big difference because everything was so close. When you get just a little separation it makes a big difference.”
Three matches remained on court when Kentucky grabbed the decisive fourth point of the match. No. 17 Eric Quigley posted the most impressive win of the day, taking down No. 15 Ilyushin in three sets. Quigley earned the first set 7-6, before Ilyushin earned the second set in a tiebreaker 7-6 (1). Quigley would dominate the third set 6-1 to post the win and give Kentucky its fifth point.
No. 18 Musialek concluded the scoring for Kentucky with his straight-sets win at court two over James Chaudry. The native of Dax, France grabbed the first set in a tiebreaker 7-6 (4) before continuing to perform well in the second set for the 7-5 win.
MSU grabbed its lone point in the match at court four when No. 44 Louis Cant took down No. 91 Jomby 5-7, 6-1, 6-7 (2).
“At one point, we had won the first set at number five and every other match was five-all in the first set,” Emery said. “We ended up winning almost all of those matches, basically all of those first sets. I thought that was a big key for what we were doing.”
Kentucky will continue its four-match homestand Sunday against No. 14 Ole Miss at 1 p.m. ET. Admission to all men’s tennis home matches is free of charge. Fans are encouraged to park in Parking Structure 7 next to the tennis complex. Parking will be free of charge Sunday. Live scores and an interactive live blog for fans will be available online at UKathletics.com.
Ole Miss enters Sunday’s contest after defeating Vanderbilt on Friday in Nashville. The Rebels currently sit tied for first in the SEC Western Division with a 7-2 record in league play. Ole Miss has four ranked singles players in No. 19 Nik Scholtz, No. 36 Marcel Thiemann, No. 40 Jonas Lutjen and No. 61 William Kallberg. The Rebels also have four ranked doubles tandems in No. 12 Chris Thiemann and Marcel Thiemann, No. 60 Lutjen and Johan Backstrom, No. 63 Scholtz and Lutjen and No. 79 Marcel Thiemann and Lutjen.
For more information on the Kentucky men’s tennis team, follow “UKMensTennis” on Twitter or “University of Kentucky men’s tennis team” on Facebook.
Southeastern Conference Dual Match
No. 6 Kentucky 6, No. 10 Mississippi State 1
Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex – Lexington, Ky.
Friday, April 6, 2012
1 – No. 17 Eric Quigley (UK) def. No. 15 Artem Ilyushin (MSU) 7-5, 6-7 (1), 6-1
2 – No. 18 Alex Musialek (UK) def. James Chaudry (MSU) 7-6 (4), 7-5
3 – No. 22 Anthony Rossi (UK) def. No. 67 Malte Stropp (MSU) 7-6 (4), 6-3
4 – No. 44 Louis Cant (MSU) def. No. 91 Tom Jomby (UK)5-7, 6-1, 6-7 (2)
5 – Alejandro Gomez (UK) def. No. 46 George Coupland (MSU) 6-1, 3-6, 6-3
6 – Grant Roberts (UK) def. Zach White (MSU) 7-6 (8), 6-1
1 – No. 17 Eric Quigley/Panav Jha (UK) vs. No. 32 Louis Cant/Malte Stropp (MSU) 7-6 DNF
2 – Alex Musialek/Anthony Rossi (UK) def. No. 43 George Coupland/Artem Ilyushin (MSU) 8-6
3 – Alejandro Gomez/Tom Jomby (UK) def. Zach White/Ethan Wilkinson (MSU) 8-3
Order of Finish
Singles – 6, 5, 3*, 2, 1, 4
Doubles – 3, 2*