Men's Tennis Finishes Season Ranked 7th by ITA

May 29, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- After one of the best seasons in school history that saw a third consecutive Sweet 16 appearance and a Southeastern Conference Championship, the University of Kentucky men’s tennis team has finished the season ranked seventh in the nation in the final Intercollegiate Tennis Association team rankings, it was announced Tuesday.

The No. 7 final ranking is the best for the Kentucky program since it was fifth at the end of the 1997 season. The high final mark ties the third highest final ranking in school history, trailing only the 1992 team that finished sixth and the 1997 squad. UK also finished seventh in 1998. This is the 24th season that UK has finished in the top 25 in the final ITA rankings, including four consecutive seasons in the top 15.

This is the 19th consecutive week that Kentucky has been ranked in the top 10 of the team rankings dating back to the 2011 season. UK started this year ranked seventh in the nation and spent a majority of its time there, while also spending five weeks ranked sixth in the nation. The No. 6 ranking was the highest for UK since the 2010 season, while prior to that UK had not reached sixth in the rankings or higher since the 2002 campaign.

UK fared well against the teams that made up the final ranking, posting an overall record of 23-6 against ranked foes. Kentucky went an impressive 13-6 overall against top-25 teams, including two wins over teams in the top 10.

Dennis Emery’s squad had a banner year in 2012, going a school-record 11-0 in SEC action to earn the school’s second SEC Championship and its first since 1992. The solid year continued a string of success in the SEC for UK as the Wildcats have won 16 consecutive regular-season dual matches against SEC foes and 21 of their last 23 overall against conference teams. UK’s biggest win of the season came when it defeated then-No. 5 Georgia in Athens, Ga., for its first win over the Bulldogs in Athens since the 1997 season.

Kentucky (28-6) ended the spring season with the second-most wins in school history behind a .778 winning percentage, which was the third highest in the history of the program. UK set the school record for wins last year with 29, while the 1988 and 1992 teams had a higher winning percentage.

Part of the reason for the high win total was due to Kentucky’s deep runs in both the SEC and NCAA Tournaments. The Wildcats earned the overall No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament, rolling through Vanderbilt and Ole Miss to advance to the finals, where they would fall to highly ranked Georgia. The finals appearance was the third in school history for Kentucky and the second consecutive.

UK’s momentum from the conference tournament carried over into the NCAA Tournament as the Wildcats hosted the first and second rounds of the event for the fourth consecutive season and the ninth time since 2000. Kentucky, which was making its 23rd appearance in the event, defeated Radford and Indiana in the first and second rounds, respectively, to advance to its third consecutive Sweet 16 for the second time in school history. The Wildcats’ season would come to an end in the round of 16 against No. 11 Stanford.

Kentucky posted over 20 wins in 2012, marking the third consecutive season and the 18th time in school history UK has won 20-plus matches. The Wildcats also continued their impressive play at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex, going 16-1 at home to increase their record to 62-10 at Boone since the start of the 2009 season.

Joining Kentucky in the top 10 of the final rankings are No. 1 USC, No. 2 Virginia, No. 3 UCLA, No. 4 Ohio State, No. 5 Georgia, No. 6 Pepperdine, No. 8 Duke, No. 9 Stanford and No. 10 Oklahoma. All 12 SEC teams finished the season ranked.

The ITA will announce the final singles and doubles rankings on June 6.

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