May 18, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The sixth-ranked University of Kentucky men's tennis team won the doubles point, but could not continue its momentum in singles action, dropping a 4-1 decision to No. 11 Stanford in the NCAA Men's Tennis Tournament Round of 16 on Friday at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga.
"A disappointing outcome for us, but a great season for our program," UK head coach Dennis Emery said. "I told the team after the match to not let this match determine how you look at your team. We have had one of the best years in the history of our school. We finished 28-6. We won the Southeastern Conference Championship for only the second time in school history. And we went undefeated in conference play for the first time ever. There are a lot of great memories for this team that they need to remember."
The loss concludes Kentucky's season with an overall record of 28-6, the second-most wins in the history of the program. Last year's team set the school record for wins in a year with a 29-9 mark. UK ends the season with a .778 winning percentage, which is the third highest in the history of the program behind the 1988 and 1992 teams.
This was the 23rd appearance for Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament, holding an all-time record of 21-23 in the event. UK, which is 7-3 in the tournament since the 2010 season, was making its third consecutive appearance in the Sweet 16 for only the second time in school history. The Wildcats last advanced to three straight Sweet 16s in 1987-89.
Kentucky ends the season with a 23-6 record against currently ranked teams. More specifically, UK was 11-6 against teams currently ranked in the top 25, including three wins over teams in the top 10. Since the start of the 2009 season, Kentucky has won an impressive total of 31 matches against top 25 foes.
"We had great leadership all year from our co-captains Alex Musialek and Eric Quigley and that was something we went over after the match," Emery said. "Those two have just been so good at the top of our lineup and so fun to coach."
Kentucky started the match by winning the doubles point, getting impressive wins at courts one and three. Sophomores Tom Jomby and Alejandro Gomez began the winning in doubles for Kentucky, posting a convincing 8-2 win over Matt Kandath and Jamin Ball at court three. The Wildcats then clinched the doubles point when No. 7 Quigley and Panav Jha took down Stanford's top duo of Ryan Thacher and Denis Lin 8-2. This was the first time this season that UK had won the doubles point but lost the overall match. The Wildcats were 21-0 after winning doubles entering the match.
"We played great in the doubles and really played fantastic at court one," Emery said. "I think it was one of our best matches of the year at court one."
Stanford would take control of the match however in singles, winning first sets on all six courts. No. 36 Bradley Klahn, who won the NCAA Singles title in 2010, tied the team score at court one when he defeated No. 3 Quigley 6-1, 6-2, giving the Wildcat star only his second loss of the season in dual matches. Moments later, No. 29 Thacher defeated No. 15 Musialek 6-1, 7-5 to give the Cardinal a 2-1 lead.
After Daniel Ho took down No. 111 Gomez in three sets 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 to give the Cardinal a 3-1 lead, Kentucky started a mini comeback. No. 22 Anthony Rossi, who dropped his first set to Kandath, rallied in the second set and was on serve in the third at court three, while sophomore Grant Roberts had break point in the third set at court six over Robert Stineman.
No. 80 Jomby had also started a comeback effort at court four, winning four of the last five games to shrink a 4-0 third set lead for John Morrissey. With Morrissey still up a break 5-4 and serving for the match at 30-30, the chair official on court defaulted Jomby due to multiple code violations, giving the Cardinal the 4-1 victory.
"Obviously, you are very concerned when you lose all six first set," Emery said. "That is probably the worst 30 minutes we had played all year. To be fair, like I said earlier, Stanford had a lot to do with that. We really did a good job of turning a lot of those matches around and we have done that all year. We just dug a little too deep of a hole and they were too good of a team to have that deep a hole against. That was reflected in the result at the end."
The loss does not completely end Kentucky's season as four individuals will stay in Athens over the weekend for the beginning of the singles and doubles championships. Quigley, Musialek and Rossi will each participate in the NCAA Singles tournament, while Quigley and Jha will take part in the doubles championship. A complete draw is expected to be release later this weekend. The first rounds of both events will begin Wednesday.
For more information on the UK men's tennis team, follow "UKMensTennis" on Twitter or "University of Kentucky Men's Tennis Team" on Facebook.
#11 STANFORD (20-8) def. #6 KENTUCKY (28-6), 4-1 - McWhorter Courts
Doubles (Order of finish: 3,1)
1. #7 Panav Jha/Eric Quigley (KENTUCKY) def. Denis Lin/Ryan Thacher (STANFORD), 8-2
2. #38 Alex Musialek/Anthony Rossi (KENTUCKY) vs. Bradley Klahn/John Morrissey (STANFORD), 4-5, unfinished
3. Alejandro Gomez/Tom Jomby (KENTUCKY) def. Jamin Ball/Matt Kandath (STANFORD), 8-2
Singles (Order of finish: 1,2,5,4*)
1. #36 Bradley Klahn (STANFORD) def. #3 Eric Quigley (KENTUCKY), 6-1, 6-2
2. #29 Ryan Thacher (STANFORD) def. #15 Alex Musialek (KENTUCKY), 6-1, 7-5
3. Matt Kandath (STANFORD) vs. #22 Anthony Rossi (KENTUCKY), 6-3, 3-6, 5-4, unfinished
4. John Morrissey (STANFORD) def. #80 Tom Jomby (KENTUCKY), 6-1, 3-6, 5-4, default
5. Daniel Ho (STANFORD) def. #111 Alejandro Gomez (KENTUCKY), 6-3, 2-6, 6-4
6. Robert Stineman (STANFORD) vs. Grant Roberts (KENTUCKY), 6-3, 4-6, 1-1, unfinished