Men's Tennis Begins SEC Slate at No. 17 LSU, No. 47 Arkansas

March 1, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. – After an impressive road win over Louisiana-Lafayette on Wednesday, the No. 9 University of Kentucky men’s tennis team is prepared to open its difficult Southeastern Conference schedule when it travels to face two top-50 ranked conference foes starting Friday. The Wildcats (11-3) will begin the weekend at No. 17 LSU on Friday at 4 p.m. ET before squaring off against No. 47 Arkansas on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET.

“We placed a big emphasis this year on trying to win the SEC regular season and we are excited to get into that part of the season,” UK head coach Dennis Emery said. “The league is as tough this season from top to bottom as we have ever seen it. We are going to have to be focused and ready to play every time on the court.”

The SEC is again one of the toughest conferences in the nation as all 12 teams are ranked in the top 50 of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association team rankings. The SEC has three teams ranked in the top 10 in No. 6 Georgia, No. 9 Kentucky and No. 10 Florida, while five other teams are in the top 25. Auburn is ranked 12th, followed by No. 14 Mississippi State, No. 17 LSU, No. 19 Tennessee and No. 22 South Carolina. Ole Miss, Alabama, Arkansas and Vanderbilt are all ranked in the top 50.

Kentucky is coming off a 5-2 win against Louisiana-Lafayette on Wednesday, which was its last regular season non-conference road match of the season. Kentucky claimed all three doubles matches and four of the six singles points in the match to grab the win. No. 16 Alex Musialek, No. 98 Tom Jomby, No. 107 Alejandro Gomez and sophomore Grant Roberts posted the singles wins for Kentucky.

UK enters the weekend ranked ninth in the nation as a team after falling to No. 2 Ohio State twice and No. 9 Stanford the last two weeks. The Wildcats started the season ranked seventh in the nation before earning 10 consecutive wins to start the year and jump up to No. 6 in the team rankings. Kentucky’s 10-0 start was its best in the 30-year tenure of head coach Dennis Emery.

Kentucky has earned a total of seven wins over ranked foes this season, including three over top-25 teams. The Wildcats have defeated 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. The win over the Aggies was Kentucky’s 22nd over a top-25 team since the start of the 2009 season.

A total of five Wildcats are ranked in the ITA singles rankings, which were released Tuesday. Senior Eric Quigley leads the way at No. 6, while junior Anthony Rossi is ranked 14th and Musialek is 16th. All three players were also ranked top 20 in singles in the previous rankings, which marked the first time in school history three UK players had been ranked in the top 20 at the same time. Sophomores Jomby and Gomez complete the rankings at No. 98 and No. 107, respectively.

Quigley is having a great senior year for the Wildcats, posting a 10-0 mark in dual matches, while Rossi was named SEC Player of the Week last week and is 9-1 on the season. Musialek, who is three wins shy of 100 career singles victories, is 5-2 in dual matches this season, while Jomby is 6-2 and Gomez sits at 10-4.

LSU (6-2) is coming off an impressive weekend where they took down Tulane, New Orleans and then-No. 12 Texas A&M. The 4-3 win over the Aggies helped move the Tigers 11 spots up the rankings to No. 17. The Bayou Bengals are led in singles by junior Olivier Borsos, who is ranked 66th in the nation with a 5-3 record in dual matches this season. LSU also has two top-40 ranked doubles tandems in No. 38 Borsos and Chris Simpson and No. 39 James Tubervill and Neal Skupski.

The Razorbacks enter the weekend with an 8-2 record after earning a key road win over then-No. 43 Santa Clara last weekend. The win catapulted Arkansas to No. 47 in the team rankings, which is the highest of the season for UA. The Razorbacks do not have a ranked singles player or doubles tandem this season.

Last year, Kentucky played one dual match during the season against LSU and Arkansas. The Wildcats took down then-No. 75 Arkansas 5-2 on April 8 before defeating then-No. 30 LSU 6-1 on April. 10. Both matches were played at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Center in Lexington, Ky. UK trails the all-time series with LSU 19-27, while it leads the all-time series with Arkansas 22-3.

Live scores from both matches this weekend will be available at UKathletics.com. For more information on the Kentucky men’s tennis team, follow “UKmentennis” on Twitter or “University of Kentucky men’s tennis team” on Facebook.