No. 7 Men's Tennis Faces Tough Home Test in No. 12 Pepperdine

Feb. 3, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. – After earning its third consecutive berth into the Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Team Indoor Championships with wins over two ranked foes last weekend, the No. 7 Kentucky men’s tennis team returns to action against another quality opponent when it hosts No. 12 Pepperdine on Sunday at Noon ET at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex.

Kentucky (6-0) will complete its action Sunday by hosting Abilene Christian in a dual match at 6 p.m. ET at the Lexington Tennis Center. Live scores for both matches will be available at UKathletics.com. A live interactive blog will also be available online for the Pepperdine match.

“The level of competition really goes up when Pepperdine comes to town this weekend,” UK head coach Dennis Emery said. “They are an excellent team that returns a lot of players that made them a top-15 team last year. We know we are going to have to play a great match.

“This is probably one of the best home schedules as far as quality opponents coming to Lexington that we have had in a long time,” Emery said. “This match with Pepperdine is definitely one of the feature matches on that schedule.”

The Wildcats, who remained seventh in the nation in the latest ITA team rankings released Thursday, are coming off a successful run in the ITA Kickoff Weekend last weekend. UK defeated two ranked teams in the event, including a 4-1 win over No. 22 Tulsa, which was UK’s 20th win over a top-25 opponent dating back to the 2009 season.

The win against the Golden Hurricane sealed Kentucky’s ticket to the National Indoors on Feb. 17-19 in Charlottesville, Va. The Wildcats have been to the national team indoor event the past two seasons, having successful runs both years. The Wildcats have now made five consecutive rounds of 16 in either the indoor or outdoor team championships. Including this season, UK has advanced to the last three rounds of 16 in the indoor team championships, on top of appearances in the outdoor round of 16 in 2010 and 2011.

UK has had a great start to the season already defeating four ranked foes in No. 22 Tulsa, No. 29 Indiana, No. 53 Michigan State and No. 57 North Carolina State. The Wildcats are led by senior Eric Quigley, the defending Co-Southeastern Conference Player of the Week. Quigley is ranked fifth in the nation in singles and has an impressive 6-0 record in dual matches this season. Fellow senior Alex Musialek, who is ranked 13th in the nation in singles, is 2-0 in dual matches.

In all, Kentucky has six singles players ranked, more than any other school in the nation. No. 36 Anthony Rossi is having a fantastic junior season, sitting at 22-2 on the year and 4-0 in dual matches. The native of Marseille, France, recently claimed the SEC Coaches’ Indoor Championships singles title, becoming the first player since Adam Malik in 1989 to earn that honor.

Three UK sophomores complete the singles rankings in No. 85 Panav Jha, No. 95 Tom Jomby and No. 111 Alejandro Gomez. Jha is 2-1 in dual matches this year, while Jomby is 3-0 and Gomez is 5-0.

Pepperdine enters the weekend with a 3-0 recording after posting two wins over ranked teams to start the year. The Waves, who will play No. 3 Ohio State on Friday before making their way to Lexington, began the season with a 6-1 win over Loyola Marymount before they earned wins over No. 52 Cal Poly and No. 36 Vanderbilt to earn a spot in the ITA National Team Championships.

Pepperdine has four ranked singles players, including No. 21 Sebastian Fanselow, No. 35 Finn Tearney, No. 49 Mousheg Hovhannisvan and No. 106 Hugh Clarke. The Waves do not have a ranked doubles team. Pepperdine leads the all-time series against Kentucky 6-5, dating back to the two schools’ first meeting in 1987.

“We are familiar with them a little bit,” Emery said about Pepperdine. “Quigley played Sebastian Fanselow twice and Fin Tearney once this fall in national events, and both of those players are very talented.”

Abilene Christian will play two matches Friday and two matches Saturday before heading to Lexington to take on the Wildcats on Sunday night. ACU will face Murray State and Southern Indiana on Friday in Murray, Ky., and Eastern Kentucky and Northern Kentucky on Saturday in Richmond, Ky.

Kentucky has been nearly unbeatable at home the past few seasons. Since the 2009 season, UK is an impressive 47-9 at home, including a 4-0 mark this year. The Wildcats were 18-3 at home last season.

For more information on the Kentucky men's tennis team, follow "UKmenstennis" on Twitter or "University of Kentucky men's tennis team" on Facebook.