LEXINGTON, Ky. – Entering his 30th season as head coach of the Kentucky men’s tennis program, Dennis Emery had a feeling the 2011-12 season would be a special one. With senior stars Eric Quigley and Alex Musialek leading the way, something inside the wise veteran gave him a good feeling. He was right.
The 2011-12 Kentucky men’s tennis team rewrote the school history book en route to the 2012 Southeastern Conference Championship. The SEC title, which was earned after the team posted an unblemished 11-0 record against SEC teams, was the program’s second-ever conference championship and the first since 1992. This was the first time ever that the program went undefeated in conference play.
The Wildcats performed very well from the beginning of the season until the end, starting the year 10-0 for the best start in Emery’s 30-year tenure. Kentucky spent the entire season ranked in the top 10 in the nation by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, including finishing the year seventh. The No. 7 final ranking was the best since the 1997 season and tied the third-highest final ranking in school history.
The final ranking continued UK’s streak of 19 consecutive weeks ranked in the top 10 in the nation. UK started this year ranked seventh in the nation and spent a majority of its time there, while also spending five weeks ranked sixth in the nation. The No. 6 ranking was the highest for UK since the 2010 season, while prior to that UK had not reached sixth in the rankings or higher since the 2002 campaign.
The solid year continued a string of success in the SEC for UK, as the Wildcats currently ride a 16-match regular-season dual-match winning streak against SEC foes, including 21 of their last 23 overall against conference teams. UK’s biggest win of the season came when it defeated then-No. 5 Georgia in Athens, Ga., for its first win over the Bulldogs in Athens since the 1997 season.
Kentucky, which ended the season 28-6, posted the second-most wins in school history behind a .778 winning percentage, which was the third highest in the history of the program. UK set the school record for wins last year with 29, while the 1988 and 1992 teams had a higher winning percentage.
Part of the reason for the high win total was due to Kentucky’s deep runs in both the SEC and NCAA Tournaments. The Wildcats earned the overall No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament, rolling through Vanderbilt and Ole Miss to advance to the finals, where they would fall to highly ranked Georgia. The finals appearance was the third in school history for Kentucky and the second consecutive.
UK’s momentum from the conference tournament carried over into the NCAA Tournament as the Wildcats hosted the first and second rounds of the event for the fourth consecutive season and the ninth time since 2000. Kentucky, which was making its 23rd appearance in the event, defeated Radford and Indiana in the first and second rounds, respectively, to advance to its third consecutive Sweet 16 for the second time in school history. The Wildcats’ season would come to an end in the round of 16 against No. 11 Stanford.
Kentucky posted over 20 wins in 2012, marking the third-consecutive season and the 18th time in school history UK has won 20-plus matches. The Wildcats also continued their impressive play at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex, going 16-1 at home to increase their record to 62-10 at Boone since the start of the 2009 season.
UK’s 2012 success also continued a four-year run unlike any other in program history as the Wildcats claimed 100 wins over the last four years, more than any other four-year stretch in school history.
For his efforts, Emery was named the SEC Coach of the Year for the third time during his tenure, while senior Eric Quigley was named SEC Player of the Year. Quigley was also named SEC Player of the Week twice during the year, while Anthony Rossi and Tom Jomby also earned the honors. Rossi claimed the weekly award after starting the spring season 9-0, while Jomby earned it after getting the clinching point in UK’s win at Georgia.
Individually, Kentucky had five players end the season ranked in the ITA singles rankings with Quigley leading the pack at No. 3. Quigley was followed by Musialek at No. 16, junior Rossi at No. 24, sophomore Jomby at No. 86 and sophomore Panav Jha at No. 114. UK had two doubles teams earn final rankings, with No. 8 Quigley and Jha and No. 45 Rossi and Musialek. This is the first time in school history that five singles players have finished the year ranked, besting the 1992 team that had four ranked singles players.
Quigley’s No. 3 final ranking is the highest final ranking of his career. The high mark also ties All-American Jesse Witten as the highest final singles ranking in school history after Witten finished the 2005 season ranked third in the nation in singles. Quigley and Jha’s No. 8 final placing is the highest for UK since Witten and Tigran Martirosyan finished third in 2005.
All told, Kentucky had three players earn a total of four All-American honors this season, which ties the most All-American honors that UK has earned in one year. Quigley was named a singles and doubles All-American to become the second five-time All-American in school history, while Musialek was a singles All-American and Jha a doubles All-American.
Quigley had a fantastic senior season for Kentucky, posting a 54-8 record in singles action, including a 26-2 mark in dual matches. The native of Pewee Valley, Ky., concluded his career in style by earning a runner-up finish at the 2012 NCAA Singles Championship, becoming only the third player in school history to advance to the singles final. Quigley’s win total in 2012 was the highest in school history while he ends his UK career with a 172-47 record to become the winnningest singles player in school history. Quigley, who won 38 matches against ranked foes in 2011-12, earned countless awards this season, including SEC Player of the Year and the ITA Rafael Osuna Sportsmanship Award.
Musialek saved his best season for last after advancing to the NCAA singles Sweet 16 for the first time in his career. The native of Dax, France, ended his senior season 30-12 overall with a 14-6 mark in dual matches. For his career, Musialek is 108-49 becoming only the 14th player in school history to win 100 or more matches at Kentucky. The star’s 108 victories is tied for ninth all time in singles wins in UK history. Musialek earned several awards this season, including being named a first team All-SEC selection. Musialek defeated 15 ranked foes this season.
Rossi had a breakout year in 2012, defeating some of the best tennis players in the country to earn an at-large bid into the NCAA Singles Championship. Rossi went an impressive 37-7 overall and 22-4 in dual matches. The native of Marseille, France, was named the ITA Ohio Valley Regional Player to Watch, while also winning the SEC Coaches' Indoor Championships earlier this season. Rossi, who was a first-team All-SEC performer, spent the entire spring season inside the top 30 after defeating 14 ranked foes this season. Rossi ends the season with a career record of 82-37.
Jomby spent the entire spring season ranked in singles, including peaking at No. 67. The native of Nantes, France, had a great sophomore season with a 30-12 record, including a 19-7 mark in dual matches. Jomby earned two honors during the season, as he was named a second team All-SEC selection and was a member of the SEC All-Tournament team. The star completed his sophomore season with a 44-21 career record, including five wins over ranked foes in 2011-12.
Jha had a strong first season with Kentucky, contributing mostly in doubles but also earning 17 singles wins along the way. The native of Pointe Claire, Montreal, earned two wins over ranked foes during the year, including defeating Mikelis Libietis of Tennessee, who finished the season ranked 34th. Jha’s highest ranking of the season was 85th. Jha earned first team All-SEC honors this season due to his strong play in doubles with Quigley.
Quigley and Jha were strong in doubles for Kentucky, earning a bid into the NCAA Doubles Championship, where they would advance to the quarterfinals. The UK stars became the first UK duo since 2010 to advance to the quarterfinals of the doubles event, matching the effort of Quigley and former UK All-American Brad Cox who went to the quarterfinals that year. The two earned All-American honors in doubles this season, finishing 22-13 overall with 13 wins over ranked foes.
Musialek and Rossi were also strong in doubles for Kentucky this season, going 9-3 to take their career total to 40-26. The duo posted three wins over ranked foes during the year.
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2012 Team Review
- Ranked top 10 from wire to wire
- Undefeated SEC Champions, first undefeated conference season in school history (second SEC Championship)
- 28 wins, second most in school history (29 in 2011)
- Reached SEC Tournament Final (3rd in school history; Second consecutive finals appearance)
- Four NCAA entries – most since 1992
- Four All-Americans – most since 1989 – tied for most all-time
- Most wins back-to-back years (57)
- Most wins over three-year period (82)
- Most wins over four-year period (100)
- Five of six players ranked in final ranking – most in school history
- Three players named first-team All-SEC
- SEC Player of the Year (Quigley)
- SEC Coach of the Year (Emery)
- ITA National Rafael Osuna Award Winner (Quigley)
- NCAA Singles Finalist (Quigley)
- NCAA Doubles Quarterfinalist (Quigley-Jha)
- All-American in singles and doubles
- Finished No. 3 in singles
- Finished No. 8 in doubles
- National Rafael Osuna Award Winner
- SEC Player of the Year after going 11-0 in SEC dual matches
- ITA Ohio Valley Region Senior Player of the Year
- ITA Ohio Valley Region Arthur Ashe Award
- NCAA Singles finalist
- NCAA Doubles quarterfinals
- Became UK’s all-time win leader with 172
- Research being done for all time collegiate win leader at 172
- First-team All-SEC
- Winner of Mr. Wildcat for the second time
- All-American in singles
- All SEC first team
- Finished No. 16 in singles
- Finished No. 45 in doubles
- Finished with 108 wins, which is tied for ninth most all-time at UK
- One of only four UK players all time to qualify for NCAA singles 3 times
- Winner SEC Coaches’ Indoor Championship
- Finished No. 24 in singles
- Finished No. 45 in doubles
- ITA Ohio Valley Region Player to Watch Award
- First team All-SEC
- All-SEC Tournament Team
- Second-team All-SEC
- Finished the year ranked No. 86 in singles
- All-SEC Tournament Team
- All-American in doubles
- First-team All-SEC
- NCAA Doubles quarterfinals
- Finished year No. 8 in doubles
- Finished year No. 114 in singles