UK Completes Regular Season with Comeback Win at Vanderbilt

April 16, 2011

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Trailing 3-1 with three singles matches still on court, the No. 13 University of Kentucky men's tennis team won three consecutive points, including a three-set thrilling win from sophomore Anthony Rossi to give the Wildcats a 4-3 victory at No. 29 Vanderbilt in their regular-season finale Saturday.

"Just another close, come-from-behind effort for us today," UK head coach Dennis Emery said. "I am very proud of our guys. They are really match-tested now for the close matches. We have had to fight through a couple of wins this year and today was no different.

"This team has been very, very gritty for us this season," Emery said. "I don't think I can say enough just how hard they have fought this year to accomplish the things that we set out to accomplish. I know that our guys are going to continue to work hard as we head into postseason play."

With the win, Kentucky (24-7, 8-3 Southeastern Conference) clinches the No. 3 seed in the SEC Tournament next week in Gainesville, Fla. The Wildcats will receive a bye in the first round before facing either South Carolina or Auburn on Friday morning at 9 ET.

UK is now 5-1 on the road in SEC play this season and 8-4 overall away from home. The win moves UK to 14-7 against teams ranked in the top 50 this season. Kentucky's 8-3 record in SEC play marks the second consecutive year that UK has posted eight SEC wins. The Wildcats have also earned a top-four seed in the SEC Tournament in back-to-back seasons.

"We knew coming into this match that Vanderbilt was going to be a very tough team to beat," Emery said. "They might be ranked 29th right now, but at home on Senior Day they are a top-20 team for sure. Our guys understood the type of effort that it was going to take to defeat such a good team today."

The Wildcats won the match with its impressive singles play, getting wins on four courts. After UK lost the doubles point to fall behind 1-0 in the match, junior Eric Quigley, ranked third in the nation in singles, made light work of No. 30 Ryan Lipman by posting a 6-3, 6-2 victory at No. 1 singles. Vanderbilt would take the next two singles points, gaining wins at No. 3 and No. 6 singles for a 3-1 lead.

The lead for Vanderbilt was its final of the match as Kentucky would take the final three singles matches for the win. No. 88 Alberto Gonzalez cut the lead to 3-2 with a come-from-behind win at No. 4 singles, taking down Blake Bazarnik. Bazarnik won the first set 6-4 before Gonzalez dominated the second set with a 6-0 victory. Gonzalez would go up a break in the third set before Bazarnik would break back. Gonzalez would win the final two games to claim the set 7-5 and the match 4-6, 6-0, 7-5.

Sophomore No. 56 Alex Musialek tied the match at 3-3 with a key win at No. 2 singles. The native of Dax, France, took the first set 6-4 before Adam Baker won a closely contested second set 7-5. In the decisive third set, Musialek got up a break and finished the match from there with a 6-3 win.

Kentucky clinched the match at No. 5 singles when No. 117 Rossi won a third-set tiebreaker against Bryant Salcedo. The match began with Rossi grabbing a convincing 6-0 win in the first set before Salcedo earned the second set 6-4. In the final frame, Rossi and Bryant went back and forth, holding serve to force a tiebreaker before Rossi pulled away for the 7-4 tiebreaking win to clinch the UK victory.

"Key effort from Rossi today, getting the win in the tiebreaker to seal the victory for us," Emery said. "He did a great job after dropping the second set to fight hard in the third set and grab the win. I am very happy with his effort."

Kentucky will now turn its attention to the SEC Tournament, which starts Thursday in Gainesville, Fla. Live results and a live blog from each of Kentucky's matches at the tournament will be available at UKathletics.com.

#13 University of Kentucky 4, #29 Vanderbilt 3
Apr 16, 2011 at Nashville, Tenn. (Currey Tennis Center)

Singles competition
1. #3 Eric Quigley (UK) def. #30 Lipman, Ryan (VANDY) 6-3, 6-2
2. #56 Alex Musialek (UK) def. Baker, Adam (VANDY) 6-4, 5-7, 6-3
3. Jones, Charlie (VANDY) def. Brad Cox (UK) 6-2, 3-6, 6-1
4. #88 Alberto Gonzalez (UK) def. Bazarnik, Blake (VANDY) 4-6, 6-0, 7-5
5. #117 Anthony Rossi (UK) def. Salcedo, Bryant (VANDY) 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 (7-4)
6. Zotov, Alex (VANDY) def. Tom Jomby (UK) 6-4, 7-6 (7-3)

Doubles competition
1. Baker, Adam/Jones, Charlie (VANDY) def. #32 Eric Quigley/Brad Cox (UK) 9-7
2. Lipman, Ryan/Salcedo, Bryant (VANDY) def. Alex Musialek/Anthony Rossi (UK) 8-6
3. Zotov, Alex/Bazarnik, Blake (VANDY) def. Alberto Gonzalez/Alejandro Gomez (UK) 8-4

Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (1,6,3,4,2,5)