March 11, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The seventh-ranked University of Kentucky men's tennis team continued an unblemished start to its 2012 Southeastern Conference schedule by earning a key 4-3 victory over No. 9 Florida on Sunday at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex in Lexington, Ky. The win was UK's 11th over a ranked foe this season and it fourth consecutive.
Kentucky (15-3, 4-0 SEC) began SEC play with wins over then-No. 17 LSU and No. 47 Arkansas, before its 6-1 win over No. 33 South Carolina on Friday. The win over Florida is Kentucky's 24th over a top-25 team since the start of the 2009 season. The Wildcats have also earned wins over then-No. 11 Texas A&M, No. 12 Pepperdine, No. 22 Tulsa, No. 29 Indiana, No. 30 Notre Dame, No. 53 Michigan State and No. 57 North Carolina State.
"It is always good when you can beat Florida because they are year-in and year-out one of the best teams in the nation," Emery said. "Their talent level is always so high and you know when you play them that you are going to have to fight hard for every point. They are extremely well-coached and it took a very complete performance for us to be able to win this match today."
The impressive win over the ninth-ranked Gators marked the second-consecutive season that UK has won the regular-season battle between the two schools. This is the first time UK has accomplished that feat since 1992-93. The Wildcats have claimed three of their last four matches against Florida, dating back to last season when it earned its first regular-season win in Gainesville, Fla., since 1988. Kentucky also defeated Florida in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, punching its ticket to the NCAA Elite Eight for only the fourth time in school history.
"I thought that today was a real character test for our guys, and we responded well," UK head coach Dennis Emery said. "Our coaching staff did a great job of putting together good gameplans and then making adjustments throughout the match. This was a big day for us. To be able to sit 4-0 in the conference says a lot about how focused we are as a team right now."
Florida (9-5, 2-2 SEC) started the match by claiming the doubles point, snapping Kentucky's streak of four consecutive wins in doubles. The Gators, who have three ranked doubles teams, grabbed their first win in doubles at court three when Tripper Carleton and Michael Alford took down Tom Jomby and Alejandro Gomez 8-4. UF then sealed the doubles point when No. 8 Nassim Slilam and Billy Federhofer took down No. 27 Eric Quigley and Panav Jha at No. 1 doubles 8-4. The Wildcats grabbed one win in doubles action with Anthony Rossi and Alex Musialek posting an 8-7 (6) win over No. 43 Bob van Overbeek and Andrew Butz.
"We came out and played very flat in doubles and it surprised me a little bit," Emery said. "This was a huge match for us, so coming out flat was not what I expected. But I thought we did a great job of flipping the match around and getting momentum back in singles. Cedric Kauffmann was in charge of coaching courts 2-5 and he did a great job of helping those guys to wins."
The Wildcats were very impressive in singles action, earning wins on four courts to grab the victory. Rossi, who is ranked 14th in the nation in singles, started the winning for UK by grabbing a dominating 6-2, 6-4 win at No. 3 singles over Carleton. No. 6 Quigley would then give Kentucky its first lead of the day, grabbing a straight sets 6-4, 6-4 win over No. 51 Bob van Overbeek.
"Anthony Rossi beat a guy at three singles today that is having a fantastic year in Tripper Carleton," Emery said. "I thought that was the best I have seen Anthony play this season. Then Eric Quigley was able to close out (Bob) van Overbeek in straight sets and that really built our momentum."
Jomby, who is ranked 98th in the nation in singles, gave UK a 3-1 lead with his solid win at No. 4 singles. The native of Dax, France, grabbed the first set over Florent Diep 7-5, before he sealed the match with a 6-4 win in the second set.
"Tom Jomby had today, what I think was the best college win of his career," Emery said. "Florent Diep is a really good player from France, who doesn't have a lot of experience in college, but does have great experience playing tennis. Tom played a very disciplined match, which is what he had to do in order to win."
After Florida grabbed a win at No. 5 singles to cut UK's lead to 3-2, UK sophomore Grant Roberts sealed the Wildcat victory with a three-set winner at No. 6 singles. Roberts dropped the first set to Alford 6-2, before rallying in the second set for a 6-2 win. In the decisive third set, Roberts dominated Alford 6-0 to clinch the UK victory. Alford entered the match with a 6-0 record at No. 6 singles.
"Very pleased with what Grant Roberts was able to do today," Emery said. "He really stepped up and showed a lot of heart today. He lost the first set and the guy was handling him pretty well, but our volunteer assistant Matt Emery made some adjustments on the court and Grant responded. I wasn't for sure if Grant was going to be able to do that, but he was and it was just huge for our team. Michael Alford had not lost at six singles this year, so for Grant to be able to pull off that win speaks volumes about his character."
The Wildcats are now 8-0 at home this season and have won an impressive 14-straight home matches dating back to last season. UK has been nearly unbeatable at home the past few season, posting a 54-9 record at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex since the start of the 2009 season. Kentucky has won three of the last four meetings with the Gators, while Florida still leads the all-time series between the two schools 36-15.
Florida entered the match after a dominating win over No. 49 Vanderbilt on Friday in Nashville. The Gators defeated Tennessee 4-3 in its conference opener last weekend before dropping a tight 4-3 decision to No. 6 Georgia.
Kentucky will now have a week off before it continues a five-match homestand with a doubleheader on Monday, March 19 against Baylor and Murray State. UK will face Baylor at Noon ET, before completing the day with a 6 p.m. showdown with the Racers. Live scores and an interactive live blog will be available for fans online at UKathletics.com. Admission to all men's tennis home matches is free of charge.
For more information on the Kentucky men's tennis team, follow "UKMensTennis" on Twitter or "University of Kentucky men's tennis team" on Facebook.
Southeastern Conference Dual Match
No. 7 Kentucky 4, No. 9 Florida 3
Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex - Lexington, Ky.
Sunday, March 11, 2012
1 - No. 6 Eric Quigley (UK) def. No. 51 Bob van Overbeek (UF) 6-4, 6-4
2 - Nassim Slilam (UF) def. No. 16 Alex Musialek (UK) 7-5, 6-1
3 - No. 14 Anthony Rossi (UK) def. Tripper Carleton (UF) 6-2, 6-4
4 - No. 98 Tom Jomby (UK) def. Florent Diep (UF) 7-5, 6-4
5 - Billy Federhofer (UF) def. No. 107 Alejandro Gomez (UK) 7-6 (4), 6-1
6 - Grant Roberts (UK) def. Michael Alford (UF) 2-6, 6-2, 6-0
1 - No. 8 Nassim Slilam/Billy Federhofer (UF) def. No. 27 Eric Quigley/Panav Jha (UK) 8-4
2 - Anthony Rossi/Alex Musialek (UK) def. No. 43 Bob van Overbeek/Andrew Butz (UF) 8-7 (6)
3 - Tripper Carleton/Michael Alford (UF) def. Tom Jomby/Alejandro Gomez (UK) 8-4
Order of Finish:
Singles - 3, 1, 4, 5, 6*, 2
Doubles - 3, 1*, 2