April 5, 2011
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Fresh off earning two key Southeastern Conference road wins last weekend, the No. 12 University of Kentucky men’s tennis team returns home for arguably one of its biggest home matches of the season when it plays host to No. 3 Ohio State on Wednesday.
Kentucky (20-6, 5-3 SEC) will face off against the Buckeyes at 3 p.m. ET at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex before concluding the doubleheader with a 8 p.m. ET showdown with in-state rival Morehead State. Live scores for both matches will be available at UKathletics.com, while a live blog will be available online for the match with Ohio State.
“We are very aware of how well we are going to have to play to win this match,” UK head coach Dennis Emery said. “Ohio State is consistently one of the top teams in the nation and was in the national championship match two years ago. Hopefully, we can come out with a lot of intensity and focus and play well. This is an important match for seeding purposes as we move closer to the end of the season.”
UK is coming off an impressive 2-0 road swing last weekend with wins over No. 15 Florida and South Carolina. The victory over the Gators was the first for UK since the 2002 season and the first regular-season win in Gainesville since 1988. Kentucky defeated Florida in the 1992 NCAA Tournament in Gainesville.
The Wildcats were led last weekend by solid play in singles and doubles, receiving two singles wins each from senior Alberto Gonzalez, sophomore Anthony Rossi and freshman Tom Jomby. Jomby headlined the UK win over Florida, defeating Andrew Butz at No. 6 singles to break a 3-3 tie and clinch the Kentucky victory. For his efforts, Jomby was named the SEC Freshman of the Week for the second time in the past three weeks. Rossi and junior Alex Musialek led the way in doubles, going 2-0 to improve their record to 7-1 in SEC play this season.
Kentucky junior Eric Quigley enters the match as UK’s highest ranked singles player at No. 7 in the latest rankings. The native of Pewee Valley, Ky., has been solid for UK all season, earning a team-high 16 wins in dual-match play with a 4-4 mark in SEC play. Musialek, who is ranked No. 51 in the nation in singles, has performed well for UK in 2011, earning a team-high seven SEC wins with a 15-7 dual-match record. The native of Dax, France, has won five of his last six singles matches.
Two other Wildcats are ranked in singles with Gonzalez coming in at No. 100 and Rossi at No. 104. Gonzalez, a native of Bradenton, Fla., is 13-6 this season in dual-match play and has won six of his last seven matches. Rossi, a native of Marseille, France, is undefeated in SEC play this season with a 5-0 record and has a 14-3 mark in dual-match play.
In doubles, Kentucky has been paced lately by dominating performances from Musialek and Rossi with the tandem sitting at 7-1 in SEC play, including winning their last five matches. The Wildcats have two doubles teams ranked in the nation with Jomby and Gonzalez at No. 51 and senior Brad Cox and Quigley at No. 64.
Ohio State (19-2, 4-0 Big Ten) enters the match on a four-match winning streak with wins over No. 6 Pepperdine, No. 57 Iowa, No. 15 Illinois and Northwestern. All four wins came on the road. OSU has seven singles players ranked in the top 102 in singles, including No. 3 Blas Rola and No. 14 Chase Buchanan. Joining Rola and Buchanan in the rankings are No. 41 Matt Allare, No. 53 Devin McCarthy, No. 66 Peter Kobelt, No. 98 Balazs Novak and No. 102 Nelson Vick.
Ohio State also has two ranked doubles teams in the top 15 with Buchanan and Rola at No. 9 and Matt Allare and Peter Kobelt at No. 13.
“We understand how rankings work and if you want to move up you have to beat the guys ahead of you,” Emery said. “Ohio State is one of the best teams in the nation and has a extremely solid lineup from top to bottom. They are a well-coached team in every aspect of the game and this match is always a really big match for us.”
Last year, Kentucky fell to Ohio State in 5-2 at the Varsity Indoor Tennis center in Columbus, Ohio, giving the Buckeyes their 96th consecutive home win. OSU has won the last seven matches against the Wildcats with Kentucky’s last win in the series coming during the 1986 season when UK won 5-4 in Lexington.
Kentucky has been dominating at home the past two seasons in non-conference play, earning a 12-0 record this season. The Wildcats are 25-0 at the Boone in non-conference matches since the start of the 2010 season.
For more information on the Kentucky men’s tennis team, visit UKathletics.com or follow “University of Kentucky men’s tennis team” on Facebook.