Agostinelli leads UK tennis to national ranking



By Nick Craddock

Et tu, Bruno? OK, so these were not Caesar’s exact last words.

However, the UK men’s tennis team, including senior Bruno Agostinelli, has often had the last laugh in matches this season.

The Cats (8-4, 0-2 Southeastern Conference) are the No. 21 team in the nation, according to College Tennis Online. Last year the Cats finished with a disappointing 12-16 record, which makes the current season allthe more impressive, as expectations continue to be exceeded

“So far I’m really pleased with the season,” said UK head coach Dennis Emery. “The team’s showed a lot of progress, but we’re nowhere near our potential.

The team is a combination of seasoned veterans like Agostinelli and Shane Collins, with freshmen like Eric Quigley, Graeme Dyce and Alex Musialek making immediate contributions to the team. The first-year players were part of a top-five recruiting class, said Emery.

The veteran-rookie combination has worked well thus far; the Cats have sprinted out of the gate posting four victories against ranked opponents, including a win in Knoxville, Tenn. against then-No.4 Tennessee on Feb. 21. The win marked UK’s first victory over an opponent ranked in the top five since April 2005.

Agostinelli, the No.2 ranked singles player in the nation, spearheads the team’s success and has posted a 24-9 singles record since September. The No. 2 ranking for the Niagara Falls, Canada native is the highest for a Wildcat since Jesse Witten was No. 1 in 2003.

Agostinelli’s success is no coincidence.

“I’ve been working hard in practice,” explains Agostinelli. “Working hard both on and off the court.”

Agostinelli’s winning touch carries over into doubles play also. Agostinelli and sophomore Brad Cox are UK’s top doubles team, and the tandem rank 20th nationally. This is the second consecutive season the two have played together.

“Once you get to playing with someone for awhile you get used to them,” said Cox. “We know how to handle certain game situations.”

After peaking at No.11 last week, the Cats endured their first major setback over the weekend. SEC play began with close losses to then-No. 9 Florida and then-No. 31 South Carolina, concluding a frustrating road trip.

Despite the losses to open conference play, the team is remaining upbeat.

“I still think we’re one of five teams vying for the conference championship,” said Emery. “After the two losses we just have no margin of error the rest of the way.”

The players seem to mirror the coach’s sentiments.

“This team has good chemistry,” said Cox. “A lot of schools have talent, but we win matches because of our chemistry.”

Cox said a deep run to the NCAA Tournament’s elite eight could very well become a reality. Agostinelli added that he wants to see the Cats back in the top 16 of the rankings before the postseason.