Tennis enters SEC Tourney at No. 3

By Samantha Rothbauer

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UK men’s tennis coaches and players are mentally preparing for the matchup between the winner of the University of South Carolina and Auburn match.

“I think our team is very fit,” head coach Dennis Emery said. “I think the (Southeastern Conference) tournament becomes a little bit of a physical grind, especially if it’s at Florida in a little more heat.“

No. 13 UK (8-3 SEC) defeated Vanderbilt last week in a comeback win to earn a No. 3 seed in the SEC tournament.

“Against Vanderbilt we had a tough match, and they’re ranked No. 29 and we barely pulled it out,” junior Eric Quigley said. “Pretty much any team, especially in the SEC can play really good on any given day so we just have to be prepared against anybody no matter who we play or what they’re ranked.”

Junior Alex Musialek said the win over the Commodores didn’t come easy.

“It was a really tough match,” he said. “We played on their senior day and I think they had four seniors on the team so they were really pumped and they were ready to go, but mentally we have to be really strong. I think we couldn’t be more ready to go [to the tournament]”

As the SEC tournament nears, the Cats believe they are doing their best to prepare for the intensity of competition to be seen from all teams. UK is hoping to match up with Auburn for the Friday morning match.

After falling to Auburn earlier this season, the Cats are looking for revenge from one of their three SEC losses.

“Auburn is a clear-cut favorite to beat South Carolina, so we’re really looking to prepare for Auburn,” Emery said.

The players believe it is crucial to jump ahead on the doubles matches, to put them in good standing for the singles.

“The key to the match is the doubles point. We lost the doubles down at Auburn. I think if we can win the doubles this time it’s going to give us a lot of momentum going into the singles,” Emery said. “In terms of match-ups, I don’t think it’s a good one or a bad one, but I think the doubles point is key.

UK is 13-3 when winning the doubles point and 6-4 when losing the doubles point.

“We already lost to Auburn this year, so we’re looking for a win this time,” Musialek said. “We’ll have to take our revenge.”