No. 6 Men's Tennis Ready for SEC Tournament
April 19, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Behind one of the best regular seasons in school history, where it went undefeated in league action en route to earning the Southeastern Conference Championship, the sixth-ranked University of Kentucky men’s tennis team is looking to continue its winning ways this weekend in Starkville, Miss., at the SEC Tournament.
The event, which began Thursday with the first round, consists of all 12 SEC schools. The quarterfinals of the tournament will be played Friday with the semifinals Saturday and championship Sunday. For the third consecutive season Kentucky (24-4, 11-0 SEC) has received a first round bye and will not compete until the quarterfinals Friday. UK is the No. 1 seed in the event and will face the winner of No. 8 LSU and No. 9 Vanderbilt on Friday at 3 p.m. ET.
“We are really excited to be the No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament,” UK head coach Dennis Emery said. “We feel like we are going into the tournament with a lot of momentum. We have won our last nine matches and moved up to six in the rankings. We feel like Starkville has been a good place for us to play. We have won down there in the past, but it can be a difficult setting because they have huge crowds. We seem to handle those situations well and hopefully that will continue.”
The Wildcats have advanced past the first round of the tournament in each of the last four years, while last year’s team put together one of the best runs in school history at the tournament. The 2011 Wildcats defeated highly ranked Auburn and Georgia in the event last year to appear in the SEC Tournament Championship match for only the second time in school history. UK would eventually fall to Florida, who hosted the tournament, in the finals.
UK enters the event on an impressive nine-match winning streak, taking down some of the best teams in the nation during that stretch. In its last nine matches, UK has defeated No. 4 Georgia, No. 9 Mississippi State, No. 13 Ole Miss, No. 16 Tennessee, No. 17 Auburn, No. 20 Illinois, No. 43 Vanderbilt and No. 46 Alabama. All told, UK has won 19 of its last 20 SEC matches, including 16 consecutive SEC regular season matches.
Kentucky has had a lot of success this season against the best teams in the nation, holding a 20-4 record against currently ranked teams. The Wildcats also have four wins against top-10 teams this season, while they hold a 10-3 record against teams currently ranked in the top 25. UK has won a total of 30 matches against top-25 ranked teams since the start of the 2009 season.
UK moved up one spot to No. 6 in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings, which ties the highest ranking of the season for UK. Six Kentucky players are ranked in singles in the latest rankings, while UK also has two top-40 ranked doubles duos.
Senior Eric Quigley is ranked third in the nation for the second-consecutive week, which is a season-high ranking for the senior. The native of Pewee Valley, Ky., has been fantastic this season with a record of 45-6, including a 22-1 mark in dual matches.
Fellow senior Alex Musialek and junior Anthony Rossi are also in the top 20 with Musialek sitting 14th and Rossi 19th. Musialek's high mark is just one off his career best of 13th, which he earned earlier this season. The native of Dax, France is 28-10 overall this season and 14-5 in dual matches. Rossi, a native of Marseille, France, enters the top 20 for the first time since he was 14th on Feb. 28.
Three UK sophomores complete the rankings in Tom Jomby, Alejandro Gomez and Panav Jha. Jomby, who is 16-5 this year in dual matches, is ranked 76th, while Gomez is 110th and Jha 112th. Gomez is having a great dual-match season with a record of 17-7, while Jha is 16-12 overall this season.
In doubles, Quigley and Jha headline the rankings at 12th, marking the fourth consecutive week the duo has been ranked in the top 20. Musialek and Rossi, who entered the ranking for the first time this season last week, moved up several spots this week to 37th.
During first-round action in Starkville on Thursday, Kentucky received the SEC regular-season championships trophy from SEC Associate Commissioner Debbie Corum.
Kentucky defeated both Vanderbilt and LSU already this season during the regular season. UK defeated LSU in its opening SEC match of the season 5-1 in Baton Rouge, La., while last weekend UK took down Vanderbilt 6-1 to clinch the outright SEC title.
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