Jan. 30, 2010
Link to USTA Web site
College Spotlight: Eric Quigley, University of Kentucky
Friday, January 29, 2010 11:23 AM ET
Eric Quigley, a sophomore at the University of Kentucky, is currently ranked eighth in singles and ninth in doubles in the NCAA Division I Men's Rankings. A native of Pewee Valley, Ky., Quigley reached the singles and doubles quarterfinals at the 2009 D’Novo/ITA All-American Championships and was one of six top American collegians selected to represent the United States in the fourth annual Master’U BNP Paribas, an international collegiate competition held Dec. 9-14 in Poitiers, France. He recently took time from his busy schedule to answer some questions for USTA.com.
USTA.com: You had a very solid freshman campaign last year, but you really caught fire this fall, establishing yourself as one of the top players in the nation. What kind of improvements have you made from last year to this year?
Eric Quigley: I really think that I have improved in every part of my game, but my biggest improvement would be on my serve. I have also added a lot more variety to my serve and to my game. This has given me more options in a match and confidence when my game is not going according to plan. Playing tournaments over the summer in several Futures tournaments and in the Lexington Challenger also helped my game and has given me the confidence.
USTA.com: Your coach, Dennis Emery, is one of the most successful coaches in college tennis. What have you learned from him since coming to Kentucky?
Eric Quigley: One of the many things he has really helped me with is giving me confidence in areas of my game where I wasn’t confident before. For example, he has worked with me on my serve and helped me believe in it, where before my serve wasn’t my “go-to” shot, and now it is. He has gone above and beyond for me, not only with my game but also with my academics. Each year, Dennis makes our schedule incredibly difficult, playing most all of the top teams in the nation. The challenge of these matches will hopefully help me to reach my goals.
USTA.com: What are your goals for yourself and for your team this season?
Eric Quigley: My goals for this upcoming season are to qualify for the NCAA singles and doubles tournament and to give myself a chance to win Nationals. As a team, we are working really hard to improve our results from last year, where we lost a close match to Wake Forest in the round of 32 at UK. I plan to play at the next level over the summer, and I am hoping that my college experience will help me to be more successful this summer.
USTA.com: There are a lot of great rivalries in the SEC. Which match do you look forward to the most?
Eric Quigley: The match that I am looking forward to the most is against Georgia. I have heard how much fun it is to play at Georgia because of the big crowds. Last year, I really liked it when we were on the road and people were cheering for the other team. That always makes we work harder. In the eighth grade, I was playing at UK in the quarters of the state high school championship. I lost that match in three sets to a team that was so loud and obnoxious. I was so determined after that match and never lost another high school match, including four state high school championships all played at UK.
USTA.com: In December, you were a member of the U.S. team that won the Master’U event in Poitiers, France. In fact, you and Kristy Frilling (Notre Dame) clinched the come-from-behind team victory against France with a mixed doubles win. How was the experience of representing your country abroad?
Eric Quigley: I had never traveled outside of the U.S., and being chosen to play at this event was so unbelievably exciting. Being a part of the U.S. team in the Master’U was one of the best experiences of my life. The team and coaches made my first trip out of the U.S. very memorable. The competition was great, and I especially enjoyed the final match against France. We all got along so well, and I hope to remain lifelong friends with everyone.
USTA.com: Was it fun to play alongside Steve Johnson and Austin Krajicek, players you normally compete against?
Eric Quigley: Yes, it was! I have played in a lot of tournaments with these guys in my junior career and even played Steve Johnson a couple times in juniors but never really talked to either of them before. I really enjoyed getting to know both these guys while in France and again with Steve at the USTA Training Center.
USTA.com: You were one of the top recruits in the class of 2008. Tell us a little about your recruiting experience and why you chose Kentucky. Is it nice being close to home?
Eric Quigley: Choosing a college can be very stressful due to all the great options there are to choose from. This was the biggest problem that I had. During many of my junior tournaments, my mom and I met so many great coaches and communicated with each of them mostly through email. The schools that I visited were Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky and Texas A&M, and each of these schools had great reasons to attend, including awesome coaches. But I am really happy with the decision I made. Staying close to home is a big bonus, especially during the season. My family and friends are able to come to my home matches and some of my away matches, too. Most of my teammates do not get the chance because of all the traveling.
USTA.com: What’s the best thing about Kentucky and being a Wildcat?
Eric Quigley: I have so many great memories of playing tournaments and attending camps at UK. Growing up in Kentucky and playing junior tennis and high school tennis, I have gained a lot of respect and support from not only the tennis community, but from others around the state. Cedric Kaufman has been an amazing coach and role model. I have learned so much from him and his experiences, not only as a top UK tennis player but also from his professional career. Playing at UK, I have been given many opportunities, and I think a huge part of it is because I am from Kentucky. Also, playing for UK means playing in the SEC conference, which is one of the toughest out there.
USTA.com: What is your favorite class? Any thoughts on what you would like to major in? Any career aspirations?
Eric Quigley: My favorite class so far at Kentucky has been “History of America.” History is something that interests me, and the professor made the class a lot of fun! What I think I am going to major in is Communications because it gives you a lot of options when you get out of college instead of something more narrowed on a certain profession. My goal is to play tennis at the next level and to be successful. I think that my college experience will help me to achieve that goal.
USTA.com: What advice do you have for junior tennis players who want to play in college?
Eric Quigley: If a junior is contemplating a professional tennis career, I think they should give college tennis a try. I have grown so much from the college experience and camaraderie that being on a team can give. Even if they are not thinking about the pro level, I would highly recommend playing tennis at the college level. The friendships that I have made and the experiences I have been given I would not have had if it were not for college tennis. It is amazingly hard work to schedule each day, with practice, training, classes, tutoring, meeting with advisors, mentors, etc., but it has been so worth it. I am given all the tools I need to get it all done. Whether I make it into the professional level or not, I know that any career I pursue, I will be successful.