March 26, 2009
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -
The No. 17 men’s tennis team (15-3, 3-1 SEC) returns to conference action this weekend, traveling to Lexington to take on the 13th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats (12-4, 2-2 SEC) on Friday, March 27 before returning home to host the 49th-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores (4-10, 0-4 SEC) on Sunday, March 29. The match against Kentucky is scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m. (CST) and will be held at the Hilary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Complex, while the home match against Vanderbilt is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. (CST) and will take place at the University of Alabama Tennis Stadium.
“Kentucky has the strongest team it has had in recent years, and it will be another difficult challenge in conference play,” said head coach Billy Pate. “It’s important we build on the momentum we have and focus on improving each time out. We're going into the stretch run, and we need to peak these next few weeks to accomplish the goals we set forth. Vanderbilt will be another tough match. We squandered a lead and lost a close match in Nashville last year. Undoubtedly, our guys are motivated for that match as well, and both will require our best effort."
Alabama is coming off a very successful week at the Blue Gray National Collegiate Tennis Classic, defeating three ranked teams en route to reaching the finals of the tournament. The Crimson Tide eventually fell in the championship match to then-No. 4 Tennessee, but was rewarded for its run to the finals by moving back into the top 20 of this week’s poll. Alabama had spent the last two weeks outside the top 20, but comes into the weekend ranked 17th nationally. The Tide now has eight wins on the season over teams currently ranked inside the top 70.
The series between Alabama and Kentucky is tight, with the Tide holding a slim 22-17-1 advantage. However, Alabama is just 2-4 against the Wildcats under head coach Billy Pate. Kentucky comes into the weekend on a four match winning streak, with three of those wins coming against ranked opponents. For the season, the Wildcats hold a strong 7-4 record against ranked teams, including a perfect 3-0 at home. Senior Bruno Agostinelli is currently the highest ranked player in the SEC, coming in at No. 5 in the latest poll. Freshman Eric Quigley has also earned a national ranking of No. 111 for Kentucky. The Wildcats also have one pair ranked in doubles, as Agostinelli and sophomore Brad Cox are currently No. 22.
Alabama has owned the series with Vanderbilt, holding a commanding 35-18 edge, but the Commodores did pick up a 4-3 victory last season in Nashville. Vanderbilt comes into the weekend struggling, having lost its last eight matches. The Commodores have not been able to come through in the clutch this season, holding a 2-6 record in matches decided by one point. Vanderbilt has also only been able to collect one road win this season, a 4-3 victory in Boise over Boise State. Sophomore Bryant Salcedo is the only Commodore ranked nationally in singles, currently at No. 118. Vanderbilt also has one doubles duo ranked nationally, with sophomores Adam Baker and Alex Zotov at No. 43.
Admission to all Alabama home tennis matches is free. In addition, live scoring will be available for both matches this weekend. To access scoring for the Kentucky match please click here. Scoring for the Vanderbilt match can be found on Rolltide.com under the “MORE IN TENNIS” section of the men’s tennis homepage and can also be accessed directly by clicking here.