In Dennis Emery's 28 years as Kentucky's men's tennis coach, no team has won more matches than the 2009-10 edition of the Cats.
"This team has competed really well right from the beginning of the season and last year they did something that our (past) teams had not done, which was to make a real commitment to go to the final 16," Emery said moments before being doused with a bucket of ice-cold water by three of his players.
"(That felt) awesome, it's been a long time coming."
The Cats (25-8) defeated Georgia Tech (18-8), ranked No. 24 by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, 4-1 on Sunday at the Hilary J. Boone Tennis Complex to advance to the NCAA Tournament round of 16 in Athens, Ga.
UK, ranked No. 11 by the ITA, was appearing in the second round of the NCAA championships for the seventh time since 2000. However, the Cats hadn't made it past the opening weekend since 2002, when UK reached the NCAA quarterfinals.
The Cats were eliminated last season in the second round by Wake Forest.
But the winningest team in school history didn't want another early post-season exit to ruin its achievement.
Almost all of last year's UK squad returned this season. All of them remembered the bitter feeling of losing at home as the favored team, especially sophomore Alex Musialek, who clinched the win for UK for the second straight day after a come-from-behind 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Tech's Kevin King.
"If I could win easier, like 6-2, 6-2, I would, but it's unbelievable to win a match like that to qualify for the Sweet 16," Musialek said. "It was really close at the end, and I was tight, tired and I was cramping almost."
Musialek's match was as fatiguing mentally as it was physically. He was overruled by the referee three times and his opponent took a bathroom break, which Musialek said disrupted the match's rhythm.
Emery was impressed with Musialek's ability to stay focused.
"It's all the difference in the world," Emery said of Musialek's progression into a consistent No. 2 singles player behind sophomore Eric Quigley. "What you saw today was how much he has matured as a competitor."
The 12th-ranked Quigley continued his fine form from the first round by beating Tech's Guillermo Gomez, the fourth-ranked singles player in the nation, 6-3, 6-4.
"I thought my game matched up well with (Gomez)," Quigley said. "It definitely favored me going indoors today. ... Indoors make for faster courts and that suits my game more."
The Cats alleviated some of the pressure on their top-two players by winning the all important doubles point to start the day, just as they did in the first round.
UK's tandem of Quigley and junior Brad Cox defeated Tech's Juan Spir and Kevin King, 8-4.
The Nos. 2 and 3 doubles matches were more closely contested, but UK's Anthony Rossi and Musialek won 8-6 to clinch the doubles point. UK's Alex Lambropoulos and Alberto Gonzalez and Tech juniors Ryan Smith and Eliot Potvin were tied at 7 at No. 2 doubles.
Cox fell to Potvin at No. 3 singles to even the match at 1-1, but UK responded with Quigley's win at No. 1 singles, Rossi's win at No. 4 singles and then Musialek's win.
When Musialek sealed the victory, he tossed his racket into the air and then was mobbed by his teammates.
"I just can't wait to go to (the Sweet 16), I heard the atmosphere is unbelievable, everybody cheers and everybody goes nuts," Musialek said. "Now we're ready to go and I want to win it all."