Kentucky Men's Tennis Season Recap
June 9, 2010
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Behind countless accomplishments, including a school-record 25 wins and a No. 12 ranking in the final International Tennis Association rankings, the University of Kentucky men’s tennis team concluded arguably its best season in school history in 2010.
Kentucky (25-9, 8-3 Southeastern Conference) defeated Georgia Tech in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to gather its record-breaking 25th win of the season, surpassing the old mark of 24 wins set by the 1992 and 1984 teams. The Wildcats No. 12 final ranking is the best since UK finished No. 8 in 2002. UK finished the regular season winning 12 of its last 13 matches, including seven consecutive to post a final regular-season ranking of 12th. UK climbed as high as No. 6 in the rankings after its stellar play in February and early March.
The Wildcats earned their 21st appearance in the NCAA Tournament, making their seventh trip to the NCAA Round of 16 before losing to eventual National Champion Southern California. The appearance in the round of 16 marked UK’s most successful run in the NCAA Tournament since advancing to the quarterfinals in 2002. For the second consecutive year and the sixth time since 2002, UK was selected as one of 16 host sites for the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
Prior to its appearance in the NCAA Outdoor Championships Round of 16, UK also advanced to the indoor round of 16 by winning the ITA Kickoff Weekend with wins over No. 41 Michigan and No. 16 Wake Forest. The Wildcats went 1-2 in National Indoors, including a win over No. 13 Illinois. In all, Kentucky posted five wins over top-16 ranked teams (No. 2 Virginia, No. 13 Illinois [twice], No. 15 Ole Miss and No. 16 Wake Forest).
UK’s biggest win of the year came early in the season when Kentucky took down then-No. 2 Virginia – who spent most of the season ranked No. 1 in the country - to end UVA’s 63-match regular-season winning streak. UVA had not lost a regular season match in the last two seasons. The victory was huge for the UK program as Virginia has been a national power for years, winning four consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament titles, advancing to the NCAA outdoor championships round of 16 six straight years and winning the last three National Indoor Championships. UVA has also advanced to back-to-back semifinals of the outdoor national championships and to the quarterfinals in 2008. The victory over No. 2 Virginia was the fifth time in school history UK had taken down at No. 2 ranked team.
Kentucky was nearly unbeatable at home this season, going a remarkable 16-1 in the regular season only losing 4-3 to then-No. 6 Florida. Counting SEC Tournament and NCAA Tournament play, UK ended its home slate at 18-2.
The most historic achievement of the year came when head coach Dennis Emery won his 500th match as the head man for UK tennis. With Kentucky’s 5-2 victory at Alabama on March 28, Emery reached a milestone only two other UK coaches can claim: he won 500 matches wearing the Blue and White. The only other two coaches that have over 500 wins while coaching at Kentucky are legendary men’s basketball coach Adolph Rupp and baseball coach Keith Madison. In his 28 seasons at Kentucky, Emery now holds a 511-323.
Individually, Kentucky was led by sophomore Eric Quigley who finished with 42 wins, just one win shy of the Jesse Witten’s all-time record for wins in one season. The native of Pewee Valley, Ky., finished the season with All-America honors in both singles and doubles to become only the third player in school history to receive such honors as a sophomore and the first to be named and singles and doubles All-America as a sophomore. Quigley, who finished the season ranked No. 10 in singles and No. 17 in doubles with partner Brad Cox, finished the season with a 21-6 dual match record and 42-12 overall after reaching the NCAA Singles Championship Round of 16. Quigley, who played at the No. 1 singles position all year for UK, was a vital part of the team’s success with Kentucky posting an 18-3 record in dual matches where Quigley won in singles. On top of his two All-American honors, Quigley also was named to the first team All-SEC and ITA Ohio Valley Region Player to Watch.
Sophomore Alex Musialek, who ended the season ranked No. 48 in singles, was also impressive this season, playing at No. 2 singles for Kentucky. The native of Dax, France, ended the season with a strong 20-7 record in dual matches while recording the best SEC record on the team with at 8-2. Musialek was selected to participate in the NCAA Singles Championship, giving UK its second player in the field for the first time since 2000. The Frenchman posted some of the most impressive wins of the season, defeating the No. 2 and No. 3 ranked players in college tennis. The sophomore’s win over No. 3 Michael Shabaz helped lead to UK’s historic victory against No. 2 Virginia while his victory over No. 2 J.P. Smith of Tennessee helped him claim the Crimson Tide Fall Championships title. For his efforts, Musialek was named second team All-SEC.
Juniors Cox and Alberto Gonzalez also posted successful years for the Wildcats. Cox became the first player in program history to make it to the NCAA Doubles Championship each of his first three years on the team. The native of Duluth, Ga., was awarded an All-America honor when he and Quigley advanced to the NCAA Doubles Championship Quarterfinals. The appearance in the NCAA Quarterfinals was the best finish for a doubles team from Kentucky since 1987. Cox and Quigley ended the season 16-9 in dual matches and 25-14 overall.
Gonzalez was a force for UK at No. 5 singles, tying Quigley’s mark for the most dual match wins in 2010 with a 21-6 record. The native of Bradenton, Fla., went 8-3 in SEC play with his eight league wins tying him with Musialek for the most SEC wins on the team. Gonzalez helped UK clinch several important matches, none more important than his victory at No. 5 singles against No. 2 Virginia to give the Wildcats the historic victory.
Freshman Anthony Rossi started his UK career off with a bang while senior Alex Lambropoulos concluded his UK career in style. Rossi was consistent at the No. 4 singles position for Kentucky, going 12-8 in dual matches, including a 7-4 mark in the toughest conference in America. Behind his strong singles play and impressive doubles play at No. 3 doubles with Musialek, Rossi was named a member of the All-SEC Freshman team. Lambropoulos was a force at the No. 2 doubles position all season with Gonzalez, pilling up a 12-12 record with seven wins in SEC play. The UK tandem finished the season ranked No. 68 in doubles with four wins over top-50 ranked opponents.