Feb. 10, 2011
LEXINGTON, Ky. – After dropping its first match of the year against top-ranked Virginia last weekend on the road, the No. 12 Kentucky men’s tennis team continues its difficult two-game road stretch at No. 16 Illinois on Friday at 7 p.m. ET.
Kentucky (6-1) has had a good start to the 2011 spring season, jumping out to a 6-0 record before dropping its last match to No. 1 Virginia last weekend. UK has been led this season by its upperclassman with No. 2 Eric Quigley and senior Brad Cox leading the way. Quigley is 3-1 in singles, while Cox is 6-1 with each player’s loss coming against opponents ranked in the nation’s top 30. UK has received good performances from No. 32 Alex Musialek and No. 72 Alberto Gonzalez, who both have over 60 singles wins during their Wildcat careers.
Illinois (3-2) has also performed well at the start of the 2011 spring season, posting sound wins over No. 14 Duke, No. 25 Notre Dame and No. 41 Denver. The Illini’s two losses have come against the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the nation in Virginia and Tennessee, respectively.
“We don’t harbor any illusions about how tough this match is going to be,” UK head coach Dennis Emery said. “Illinois is one of the toughest places in the country to win and they always have a very loud and vocal crowd.”
Illinois has three players ranked in the ITA preseason singles poll with No. 11 Dennis Nevolo being the highest-ranked player. Johnny Hamui and Abe Souza are also ranked, coming in at No. 111 and No. 121, respectively.
“We understand Illinois is ranked 16th in the nation, but that is where they finished last year,” Emery said. “Since last season, they have added two very good players to their lineup, which really makes them a different team. Actually, we feel like they are a top-10 team, especially when they play at home and indoors. It is a big challenge for us to go into their place and we are going to have to perform at a higher level than we have been in order to win.”
Kentucky and Illinois have had a history the past few years as the two schools have meet annually since the 2004 season with Illinois holding a 6-2 record against the Wildcats during that stretch. UK holds the all-time record against the Illini 11-10, including two wins last season, one of which was in the ITA National Team Indoor Championships. The two teams first meet in 1933.
Both Kentucky and Illinois have qualified for the ITA National Team Indoor Championships this season, which will be played in Seattle, Wash., Feb. 18-21.
Live scores for the match will be available at UKathletics.com.