May 16, 2012
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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- For the third time in as many seasons, the sixth-ranked University of Kentucky men’s tennis team will compete in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 when it travels to the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., to face No. 11 Stanford on Friday at 4 p.m. ET. The Wildcats and Cardinal will play on the McWhorter Stadium Courts.
“We are really excited to go down to Athens and play in the Sweet 16,” UK head coach Dennis Emery said. “Georgia’s venue is one of the best in all of college tennis and our guys really enjoy going down there and playing in that environment. Hopefully we can have a good few days of practice to get focused and ready to go.”
Kentucky (28-5) enters the round of 16 after a pair of 4-0 wins over Radford and No. 26 Indiana in the first and second rounds last weekend in Lexington. Stanford (19-8) defeated Sacramento State and No. 39 Santa Clara to punch its ticket to the round of 16 for the fourth consecutive season. Kentucky is the sixth overall seed in this year’s tournament, while Stanford is the No. 11 seed.
Friday’s showdown will be the second meeting of the season between Kentucky and Stanford after the two schools met in the National Indoor Team Championships in Charlottesville, Va., back in February. The Cardinal would defeat Kentucky 4-1 in the match with UK junior Anthony Rossi earning the lone Wildcats’ point at No. 3 singles.
“Stanford is an excellent team and that program is very rich in tradition,” Emery said. “They are one of the four teams that beat us this season and we felt it was a match that we could have won. I don’t think I did a good enough job of preparing our guys for that match. We are excited about going down there and getting a chance to compete against them again.”
The Wildcats enter the round of 16 with six ranked singles players and two ranked doubles duos in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings. Senior Eric Quigley headlines the rankings at No. 3 in the nation singles, while fellow senior Alex Musialek is 15th and Rossi rounds out the top 25 at No. 22. Sophomore Tom Jomby is ranked 80th in the nation in singles, followed No. 110 Alejandro Gomez and No. 111 Panav Jha. Quigley and Jha led UK in doubles with a No. 7 ranking, while Musialek and Rossi are ranked 38th.
As a team, Kentucky has been ranked in the top 10 in the nation all season long, riding a streak of 18 consecutive top-10 rankings. The Wildcats are currently sixth in the nation, which ties a season-high mark. UK has held on to the No. 6 ranking for three consecutive weeks after starting the season ranked seventh.
This is the 23rd appearance for Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament, holding an all-time record of 21-22 in the event. UK, which is 7-2 in the tournament since the 2010 season, is 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. Last year, UK had one of the best runs in the tournament in school history, defeating Florida to advance to the Elite Eight for only the fourth time program history.
Stanford is well represented in the ITA singles and doubles rankings, boasting No. 29 Ryan Thacher and No. 36 Bradley Klahn. Thacher and Klahn are also ranked fourth in the nation together in doubles, while John Morrissey and Thacher are 59th in doubles. Klahn was the 2010 NCAA Singles Champion, while he and Thacher made it to the NCAA Doubles Championship match last season.
Kentucky has fared well against the best teams in the nation this season, posting a 23-5 record against currently ranked teams. More specifically, UK is 11-5 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.
For NCAA Tournament live scores, streaming video, ticket information and more, visit the tournament central webpage here: http://www.georgiadogs.com/sports/m-tennis/spec-rel/ncaa-2012.html. A live interactive blog from UK’s match with Stanford will be available at UKathletics.com.
For more information on the UK men’s tennis team, follow “UKMensTennis” on Twitter or “University of Kentucky Men’s Tennis Team” on Facebook.