No. 7 Men's Tennis Ends Homestand with No. 19 Auburn

March 22, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Looking to rebound from a heartbreaking non-conference loss earlier this week, the seventh-ranked University of Kentucky men’s tennis team will conclude a five-match homestand when it hosts Southeastern Conference foe No. 19 Auburn on Friday at 3 p.m. ET at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex.

This weekend will serve as Kentucky’s lone home-road split weekend in league play. After its showdown with Auburn, UK will complete the weekend in Tuscaloosa, Ala., against the Alabama Crimson Tide on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.  Live scores from both matches can be found at Admission to all men’s tennis home matches is free of charge.

“We lost a tough match down at Auburn last year against a team that was just better than we were the entire match,” UK head coach Dennis Emery said. “I think they are even deeper and more improved this year so this will be a tough match for us. There is no doubt in our mind that Auburn is a top-15 team.”

Kentucky (16-4, 4-0 SEC) enters the weekend atop the SEC standings with No. 4 Georgia. The Wildcats began league action on the road with wins over No. 17 LSU and No. 47 Arkansas, before claiming two impressive home wins over No. 33 South Carolina and No. 9 Florida. After this weekend, Kentucky will have four matches left in conference play all of which are against teams currently ranked in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association top 25. Next weekend, UK will hit the road against highly ranked Georgia and No. 24 Tennessee, before it returns home April 6-8 against No. 12 Mississippi State and No. 14 Ole Miss.

In all, Kentucky has defeated 11 teams currently ranked in the ITA top 60, including No. 8 Pepperdine, No. 21 Indiana, No. 22 Texas A&M, No. 27 Tulsa, No. 33 North Carolina State, No. 36 Notre Dame and No. 57 Louisiana-Lafayette. The Wildcats’ four losses have all come to ranked teams, including three to teams ranked in the top 10 in the nation. Traditionally, UK has performed well against the best teams in the nation, posting 24 combined wins against top-25 teams since the start of the 2009 season.

The Wildcats are coming off their first home loss of the season, dropping a thrilling 4-3 contest to No. 39 Baylor on Monday. Kentucky senior Alex Musialek headlined the match by becoming the 14th player in school history to win 100 career singles matches. The native of Dax, France, used a come-from-behind effort to grab the win, defeating No. 82 Roberto Maytin 3-6, 6-1, 6-4. Musialek, who is ranked 21st in the nation in singles by the ITA is now 100-46 all-time in singles at Kentucky. The senior is 8-4 in dual matches this season.

Two other Wildcats earned singles wins in the match in junior No. 28 Anthony Rossi and sophomore Grant Roberts. Rossi was impressive in his match at No. 3 singles, taking down Marco Krickovic 6-2, 6-2, while Roberts continued his stellar play for the Wildcats with a come-from-behind 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-4 win at No. 6 singles over Julian Bley. Rossi and Musialek also earned a win in doubles, defeating Krickovic and Bley 8-6.

Kentucky concluded the doubleheader on Monday by taking down in-state foe Murray State 5-1. UK’s youth shined in the match as it received singles wins from sophomores Tom Jomby, Panav Jha, Ryuji Hirooka and Maks Gold, and freshman Brett Johnson. The win moved Kentucky to 9-1 at home this season and 55-10 at home since the start of the 2009 season.

The Wildcats, which remained seventh in the nation as a team in the latest ITA rankings, are represented well in both singles and doubles rankings. UK is one of only three teams in the nation that has six or more ranked singles players, with current No. 1 and two-time defending NCAA National Champions Southern California, and No. 2 Ohio State the only other teams that can claim the honor. Quigley headlines the rankings for UK at No. 5, while Musialek is 21st and Rossi is 28th. Sophomore Alejandro Gomez is 99th followed by No. 101 Jomby and No. 116 Jha. Quigley and Jha are ranked 17th in the nation in doubles.

Auburn (13-4, 2-2 SEC) enters the weekend ranked 19th in the nation after winning each of its last three matches. The Tigers started SEC play with losses at highly ranked Mississippi State and Ole Miss, before winning its last two league matches against Arkansas and LSU. Last Friday, Auburn head coach Eric Shore won his 300th match win a 7-0 victory over UCF in Orlando, Fla. AU went 1-2 at the ITA National Indoors in Charlottesville, Va., earlier this season with its lone win coming against Baylor. Auburn has three ranked singles players in No. 26 Andreas Mies, No. 95 Alexander Stamchev and No. 100 Lukas Ollert. Mies and Stamchev are 13th in the nation in doubles.

Alabama (6-8, 1-3 SEC) is currently ranked 61st in the nation as a team. The Crimson Tide has lost four of its last five matches, with the lone win coming at home to No. 32 Arkansas. Last week, Bama went out of conference to No. 54 Miami (Fla.), falling to the Hurricanes 5-2. Alabama will face No. 41 Vanderbilt on Friday before hosting the Wildcats on Sunday. Alabama does not have a ranked singles player, while Carlos Taborga and Daniil Proskura are ranked 60th in doubles.

“Anytime you go on the road in the SEC you have to come ready to play your best match and we will have to do that Sunday against Alabama,” Emery said. “They always play very well at home so it will be a difficult for match for us to win. This is a big weekend for us. We are going to have to play very well to walk away with two wins.”

For more information on the Kentucky men’s tennis team, follow “University of Kentucky men’s tennis team” on Facebook or “UKMensTennis” on Twitter.