Men's Tennis Releases 2012 Spring Schedule
Sept. 9, 2011
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- After earning a school-record 29 wins in the spring of 2011, including a memorable run to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships and finals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament, the University of Kentucky men’s tennis team has released its 2012 spring schedule, UK head coach Dennis Emery announced Friday.
Kentucky, which consistently plays one of the most difficult schedules in the nation year in and year out, has put together another very challenging slate in 2012. On top of playing in some of the best individual tournaments in the nation this fall, Kentucky will square off against 19 teams this spring that finished the 2011 season ranked in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s top-60 team rankings.
“Something that we always strive to do is put together one of the toughest schedules in the country every year,” Emery said. “Our program is focused on our players and we believe that in order to have a high level of player development in our program that you have to put them in a competitive environment against the country’s most talented players and teams. That is exactly what this schedule accomplishes.”
Of the 19 ranked teams the Wildcats will face, a total of 11 will make their way to Lexington, Ky., to compete at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex, including perennial national powers Baylor, Florida, Pepperdine and Illinois. In all, Kentucky will face five teams that finished the 2011 season ranked in the top 10, including No. 3 Ohio State, No. 4 Tennessee, No. 5 Georgia, No. 6 Baylor and No. 9 Florida.
The challenging schedule is balanced with skillful SEC and non-conference opponents. Known as one of the best tennis conferences in the nation, 10 of the 12 SEC schools finished in the top 60 in the nation last season, including Kentucky at No. 8. South Carolina and Arkansas were the only two schools that missed the rankings, but are expected to improve in 2012.
UK will face Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, LSU and Tennessee on the road this spring, while welcoming Auburn, Florida, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Vanderbilt to Lexington.
“We are willing to play the best teams in the country on a regular basis and being in the SEC affords us that opportunity,” Emery said. “You look at last year, because of our success we ended up playing almost 10 more ranked teams than we originally had on our schedule and of those 10, three were in the top five in the nation. When you consider that we set a school record with 29 wins against that schedule, we proved that we can compete at an extremely high level.”
Out of conference, UK will face seven teams ranked in the top 31 in 2011, including Ohio State, Baylor, Pepperdine, Illinois, Tulsa, Indiana and Notre Dame. One of the biggest non-conference weekends for UK will come early in the season when it hosts the 2012 ITA Kickoff Weekend for the third-consecutive season. Tulsa, East Tennessee State and North Carolina State will come to Lexington for the event, with the winner of the two-day tournament advancing to the National Team Indoor Championships in mid-February.
In the spring of 2011, Kentucky played a total of 38 matches after advancing to the ITA National Indoors, SEC Tournament finals and the NCAA quarterfinals. Of the 38 matches, Kentucky played 28 matches against ranked foes, posting a 19-9 record in those matches. UK ended the 2011 season having squared off against 12 teams ranked No. 20 or better and eight against top-nine teams.
“Our success last season was great for our program, however our players will not be complacent,” Emery said. “Myself and associate head coach Cedric Kauffmann don’t really have to work that hard to motivate this team. They understand how important it is for them to play hard every time they wear that Kentucky name across their chest and they take pride in playing for this university. We all look to grow this program more this season and build on last year’s success.”
Before the spring slate begins, UK will play in over 10 tournaments this fall to get prepared for the spring season, including hosting the SEC Coaches Indoor Championships on Jan. 13-16.