Notebook: Men's Tennis Makes History at SEC Tournament
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The University of Kentucky men's tennis team recently completed one of the most successful runs in school history at the 2011 Southeastern Conference Tournament in Gainesville, Fla., advancing to only its second final in school history and its first since 1992.
While at the tournament, Kentucky posted two victories over top-20 ranked teams in No. 20 Auburn in the second round and No. 5 Georgia in the semifinals. Both wins avenged previous losses to the Tigers and the Bulldogs in the regular season. The victory over Auburn improved Kentucky's record to 5-1 against teams ranked 11th to 25th and earned UK's first appearance in a semifinal of the SEC Tournament since 2004.
The win over Georgia was even more impressive for Kentucky, sending UK to the finals for only the second time in school history and the first since 1992. The dominating 4-0 victory over the fifth-ranked Bulldogs was Kentucky's first over the SEC powerhouse since 2003 and it's first away from Lexington since 1997. It was also Kentucky's first win over a top-five ranked team all season.
More importantly, the win over Georgia gave UK 26 wins in 2011, breaking the school record for wins in a single season, which was last year. Kentucky has set a school record for wins in consecutive seasons for the first time in the modern era of the program, which dates back to the late 1960s.
Kentucky was led in the tournament by seniors Brad Cox and Alberto Gonzalez, who were both named to the all-tournament team for their impressive tournament play. Cox teamed up with junior Eric Quigley to take down two top-30 ranked doubles duos, while going 1-1 in singles action. Gonzalez was also solid for UK, winning a key doubles match Saturday in the win against Georgia and going 2-1 in singles.
UK entered the SEC Tournament as the No. 3 seed after posting an 8-3 record in league play for the second time in as many years. The Wildcats' third-place finish in the SEC is its best since 2004 and it's the first time since 2005-06 that UK has earned consecutive byes in the SEC Tournament.
The performance of the tournament for Kentucky might have been the clinching point in the win against Auburn by junior Alex Musialek. The native of Dax, France, who is ranked 52nd in the nation in singles, and Auburn's No. 118 Alexander Stamchev, were both battling fatigue and cramps in the final set after both had already used their injury timeout. After Musialek and Stamchev each held serve to start the third set, Musialek got an early break to open up a 3-1 lead. Stamchev fought back, holding serve and then breaking Musialek to tie the set 3-3.
Stamchev would immediately use a medical timeout after the break, as did Musialek, allowing trainers from both teams to come onto the court to apply treatment as both players were cramping. When play resumed, Musialek earned one of the biggest games of the season, breaking Stamchev to go up 4-3. With both players continuing to cramp and barley able to move back and forth on the court, Musialek was able to hold serve to go up 5-3 and then break Stamchev again at deuce to claim the match and give UK the win.
In the semifinals against Georgia, Kentucky took the doubles point behind upset wins from No. 35 Cox/Quigley over No. 5 Javier Garrapiz and Hernus Pieters, while No. 83 Gonzalez and freshman Tom Jomby took down No. 64 Sadio Doumbi and Ignacio Taboada. In singles, Quigley led the charge by taking down No. 31 Garrapiz to clinch the match.
UK will now wait to hear about an at-large selection into the NCAA Tournament. The selections for the tournament will be broadcast live on NCAA.com on May 3 at 5:30 p.m. ET.
Kentucky Jumps into Top 10 in ITA Rankings
After a history-making run in the SEC Tournament the Kentucky men's tennis team has jumped into the top 10 of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association team rankings for the first time this season, it was released Tuesday.
Kentucky (26-8) has been ranked in the top 14 of the team rankings all season long, hitting a peak at No. 10 this week. UK started the season ranked 12th and spent four weeks at that spot before falling to No. 13 for two weeks. The Wildcats jumped into the top 10 after defeating No. 5 Georgia and No. 20 Auburn last weekend.
Individually, UK is well represented in the ITA singles rankings with junior Eric Quigley leading the way at No. 6 in the nation. Fellow junior Alex Musialek is No. 55, while senior Alberto Gonzlaez completes the rankings at No. 93. In doubles, UK's duo of senior Brad Cox and Quigley moved up 15 spots this week to No. 20 after defeating three top-15 ranked tandems in their last six matches.