Men's Tennis Ranked Preseason No. 7
Jan. 4, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. – After setting a school record with 29 wins last season en route to an appearance in the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight and Southeastern Conference Tournament Finals, the University of Kentucky men’s tennis team will begin the 2012 season ranked seventh in the nation with a school record six ranked singles players, according to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association preseason rankings.
The No. 7 ranking is the highest a Kentucky tennis team has been ranked since the 2010 team peaked at No. 6 in the nation midway through the season. The No. 7 preseason mark is the highest preseason ranking for the Wildcats since the 1997 team spent a majority of the season ranked in the top five. This is the third year in a row that Kentucky has been ranked in the top 15 in the preseason rankings after sitting No. 12 last season and No. 14 in 2010.
On top of the high team ranking, a total of six Wildcats are ranked in the ITA preseason singles poll, placing Kentucky with more ranked singles players than any other school in the nation.
“We are ranked seventh in the country in large part because of how we finished last season,” said UK head coach Dennis Emery, who is entering his 30th season as head coach of the Wildcats. “The good thing is that we have a team that realizes our current record is 0-0 and we have to continue to work hard to improve on last year’s performance. Our staff and players feel we have a team that can do that.”
All six players projected to be in the lineup for Kentucky this spring are ranked in the preseason singles poll, including seniors Eric Quigley and Alex Musialek, who sit at No. 5 and No. 13, respectively. Quigley finished the fall season at 19-4, winning the singles consolation title at the ITA All-American Championships and qualifying for the National Indoors, while Musialek went 11-4 en route to claiming the ITA Ohio Valley Regional Indoor singles title.
“The singles rankings are an indication of the hard work that our guys put in this fall and this summer to get ready for the spring,” Emery said. “All six players we have in our top rotation are ranked. I think that is the first time that has ever happened for our program.”
Junior Anthony Rossi sits at No. 36 in singles rankings after an impressive fall campaign. The native of Marseille, France, went 10-2 during the fall, claiming the Duke Fab Four Invite singles title and advancing deep into the ITA Ohio Valley Regional Indoor Championships.
Three sophomores complete the rankings for Kentucky, with Panav Jha sitting at No. 85, Tom Jomby at No. 95 and Alejandro Gomez at No. 111. Jha went 10-5 this fall, while Jomby recorded a 7-3 record and Gomez shined in his first fall season going 15-2.
“One of the things I like about this team is for the second year in a row we have a team that has been built from within,” Emery said. “Last year we started two seniors, two juniors, a sophomore and a freshman, and this year we are going to start two seniors, a junior and three sophomores. So we are basically playing with an experienced team that knows what it takes to win. These guys have been to the SEC Championship, they have played in the NCAA Elite Eight and the National Indoors. I like the way that our team is set up in terms of the depth that we have and the experience that they have had.”
Including the Wildcats, a total of eight SEC schools are ranked in the preseason poll with Georgia leading the pack at No. 4. Florida earned a preseason ranking of No. 8, followed by Tennessee at No. 13, Mississippi State at No. 16, Auburn at No. 21, Ole Miss at No. 24, Vanderbilt at No. 37 and Alabama at No. 51.
Kentucky is currently in Hawaii for the Rainbow Warrior Challenge, which will take place Saturday and Sunday. After the event, UK will come home to host the SEC Coaches’ Indoor Championships at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex beginning Jan. 13. The Wildcats’ spring season begins Jan. 22 against Michigan State in Indianapolis, Ind.
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