UK men’s tennis defeats Vandy to finish SEC undefeated

UK mens tennis photo day for the 2011-12 season.
 Photo by Chet White

UK men’s tennis photo day for the 2011-12 season. Photo by Chet White

The No. 7 UK men’s tennis team finished the conference season undefeated and clinched its first SEC Championship since 1992 with a 6-1 victory over Vanderbilt at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex Saturday afternoon.

The Cats finished the season undefeated in conference play for the first time in program history.

“This is the toughest conference in the nation and to win it we had to go on the road and beat the No. 4 team in country and then we had to beat six other teams ranked in the top 25,” UK head coach Dennis Emery said in a release. “To run the table and go 11-0 is quite an accomplishment. I didn’t feel at the beginning of the season that we would do this, but this team has really come together and reached its maximum potential. I am a very happy coach.”

The Cats swept the three doubles matches to earn that point, and won five out of the six singles contests. The Cats are 17-0 on the season when taking the doubles point.

UK senior Eric Quigley (No. 3) defeated Vandy’s Charlie Jones (No. 34) 6-2, 6-3 to pace the Cats.

“How many people can say on their Senior Day they had a chance to win the SEC title outright?” Quigley said. “And to do it right next to my best friend with us both playing in the stadium and winning. All the great things that have happened the last four years came down to today and it was really special.”

UK senior Alex Musialek (No. 15) def. Vandy’s Gonzales Austin (No. 94) 6-3, 6-4.

“It is a really special time for us with Eric and Alex being able to do this their senior season,” Emery said. “They are both so committed to our program and winning. When they came here, they were coming off probably the worst year we had had in 20 years. But where we are right now is because of Eric and Alex, they have meant so much to our program.”

The win also gives the Cats the No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament in Starkville, Miss., next week. The top seed gives the Cats a first-round bye and will not compete until Friday.

“We need to keep going,” Emery said. “It is great to celebrate and fantastic what we have done so far, but our goal was to win the conference and go to Final Four of NCAAs. We have a lot in front of us.”