Cats finish SEC undefeated to earn first title since 1992
Kentucky's men's tennis team clinched its first Southeastern Conference championship since 1992 on Saturday by defeating visiting Vanderbilt 6-1 to complete an undefeated league campaign.
Kentucky, ranked No. 7 in the nation, finished the SEC regular season with an 11-0 record, its first undefeated mark ever.
"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 the country and then we had to beat six other teams ranked in the top 25," UK Coach Dennis Emery said. "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."
This is the second time Kentucky has finished first in the SEC regular season. In 1992, the title was determined by a points system combining both regular season and tournament results. UK finished tied for first in the SEC regular season in 1992, but was not officially named the SEC regular-season champion. The league started recognizing SEC regular-season champions by league records in 2000.
"Wow," UK senior Alex Musialek said. "I have been here for four years now and my freshman year we were ranked 40-50 in the country. I told the coaching staff after that year I wasn't leaving this place without a title. This team deserves this and we have worked so hard. I am so happy and proud of what we have done, but we have more to accomplish."
"I really can't explain this feeling," UK senior Eric Quigley said. "How many people can say on their Senior Day they had a chance to win the SEC title outright? 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."
The win gives Kentucky the No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament, which will begin Thursday in Starkville, Miss. Kentucky will have a first-round bye and not start 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."
Favored It's Tricky holds on at Aqueduct
It's Tricky, the 3-5 favorite, beat C C's Pal by 3½ lengths in the $200,000 Distaff Handicap for fillies and mares at Aqueduct. It's Tricky appeared to be struggling turning for home before responding to right-handed encouragement from Eddie Castro for her fourth graded-stakes victory, and seventh win in 11 career starts.
■ Mizdirection beat Teroda by a half-length in the $100,000 Las Cienegas Handicap at Santa Anita, giving the 4-year-old filly her fourth straight victory for co-owner and sports talk host Jim Rome.
Bridgewater sharp in Cards' spring game
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater completed 19 of 21 passes for 257 yards and threw for three touchdowns to lead Louisville's first unit to a 28-3 win in its spring game Saturday. The reigning Big East Rookie of the Year put in a near-flawless performance. Both of his incompletions were because of drops. He threw touchdown passes to DeVante Parker, Andrell Smith and Dominique Brown before giving way to Will Stein in the fourth quarter.
Coach Charlie Strong singled out the play of defensive lineman Lorenzo Mauldin, but the sophomore said he was no match for Bridgewater's elusiveness. "Teddy Bridgewater is, as they say, Houdini," Mauldin said. "When I run after him I know I'm not going to catch him."
Pettersson leads RBC Heritage by a shot
Carl Pettersson had a run of five straight birdies on the front nine and finished with a birdie on the 18th hole for a 66 and a one-stroke lead over Colt Knost after the third round of the RBC Heritage on Saturday in Hilton Head Island, S.C.
■ South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen completed a 3-under 69 to take a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Malaysian Open. Oosthuizen, coming off a playoff loss to Bubba Watson in the Masters, played the final eight holes of the rain-delayed third round in even par to remain 13 under on Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club's West Course.
■ Michael Allen shot a 4-under 67 to take a five-stroke lead after the second round of the Champions Tour's Encompass Insurance Pro-Am in Lutz, Fla.
Kentuckian Kenny Perry, coming back from a viral infection, had eight birdies en route to a 67. He was 6 under before double bogeys at 15 and 18 left him at 3 under. "A lot of good things happened to me," Perry said. "I had some strength. I actually felt like somebody today. I'm starting to feel better, so I'm excited about that. I'm looking forward to tomorrow and just the rest of the year."
Backstrom's OT goal gives Caps 2-1 win
Nicklas Backstrom scored 2:56 into the second overtime Saturday to give the Washington Capitals a 2-1 victory over the Boston Bruins and tie the first-round playoff series at a game apiece. Braden Holtby stopped 43 shots for Washington in his second career post-season game. Tim Thomas made 37 saves for the defending Stanley Cup champions.
The last word
Before Bubba Watson won the Masters, he played in the Par 3 tournament with NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin as his caddie. The PGA Tour player and NASCAR driver became friends after meeting at Phoenix two years ago. Watson won the Masters on the second playoff hole, with a curving shot out of the pine needles onto the green. Hamlin joked Saturday:
"That trick shot I taught him on Wednesday paid off on Sunday. A great win at the end was great for him and obviously good for me and my storytelling. It's not too often you get to caddie for the 2012 Masters champ."