The 12th-seeded University of Kentucky men’s tennis team defeated No. 24 Georgia Tech 4-1 in the second round of the NCAA Championships on Sunday at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex. The victory sends the Wildcats to the event’s round of 16 for the first time since 2002.
The victory also gives No. 11 Kentucky (25-8) its most wins in a season in school history, surpassing the 24-win mark set by the 1984 and 1992 squads. Georgia Tech concludes its season at 18-8. UK wraps up its home schedule with an 18-2 record.
Kentucky will face No. 5-seed Southern California (21-3) on Friday at 9 a.m. EST at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga. The victor will take on the winner of the Wisconsin (21-7) vs. Ohio State (34-1) match in the quarterfinals Sunday.
“This is a big break through win for our program to get back to the Sweet 16,” UK head coach Dennis Emery said. “We have been in this situation several times and have not been able to finish off the job. This year’s team has a lot of character and it takes a lot of character because they (NCAA) do not give you this round. One thing that I am really, really pleased with is how Coach Cedric Kauffman has done a really great job to help us reach our goals. He has worked tirelessly to help us do that and I am really happy not just for our players but for him to do this.”
Inclement weather in the central Kentucky area forced Sunday’s match to be played indoors.
In a matchup of highly ranked singles players, No. 12 Eric Quigley of Kentucky earned a straight-sets 6-3, 6-4 upset victory over No. 4 Guillermo Gomez of Georgia Tech at No. 1 singles. It marks the highest ranked opponent Quigley has defeated this spring, topping a 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 win over Florida’s Alexandre Lacroix on April 4. Quigley also defeated then-No. 1 Oleksandr Nedovyesov of Oklahoma State, 7-5, 6-1, at the ITA All-American Championships during the fall season. The win Sunday was Quigley’s 14th against a ranked opponent this spring.
The Wildcats clinched the match at No. 2 singles when No. 49 Alex Musialek rallied to defeat No. 85 Kevin King of Georgia Tech in a three-set battle, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3. Musialek moves his singles mark to 20-7 after registering his third win over a top-100-ranked opponent this spring.
The Wildcats lead the match from start to finish, winning their 20th doubles point of the season to grab a 1-0 lead against the Yellow Jackets. The 22nd-ranked duo of Quigley and Brad Cox pulled away from Georgia Tech’s 52nd-ranked tandem of Eliot Potvin and Ryan Smith to post an 8-4 victory at No. 1. It marked the sixth time this season the Wildcat pair has defeated a doubles opponent currently ranked in the top 60 and moves to the duo’s record to 16-8.
Kentucky clinched the doubles point when Musialek and Anthony Rossi edged Gomez and Dean O’Brien 8-6 at No.3. The Wildcat duo pushed their record to 15-8 this season. The victory halted the No.2 doubles match between UK’s 76th-ranked pair of Alberto Gonzalez and Alex Lambropoulos and Georgia Tech’s 70th-ranked duo of King and Juan Spir that was tied at 7-7.
Georgia Tech’s Eliot Potvin, ranked No. 112, helped the Yellow Jackets even the score at 1-1 when he posted a 6-4, 6-4 win over UK’s Cox at No. 3 singles.
The Wildcats quickly regained the lead when Quigley won at No. 1 singles and Rossi earned a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Georgia Tech’s Miguel Muguruza at No. 4 singles. Rossi improves his singles mark to 19-8.
Two singles matches were stopped after Musialek sealed Kentucky win. UK’s Gonzalez led Magin Ortiga 6-4, 2-1 in the second set and Georgia Tech’s Spir led UK’s Lambropoulos 6-2, 1-3 in the second set.