Tennis men face Florida with NCAA quarterfinals at stake
The Kentucky men's tennis team has a rubber match with Florida on Thursday for a spot in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament at Stanford. The 10th-seeded Cats will play the No. 7 Gators for the third time since April 1. UK (28-8), which is in the midst of its winningest season ever, won at Florida (20-8) in the regular season for the first time since 1988 but was swept 4-0 in the Southeastern Conference finals last month.
The Gators haven't lost a singles or doubles match since the SEC semifinals on April 23 against Tennessee. After sweeping the Cats in the finals, they blanked South Carolina State and Miami at home in the first two rounds of the NCAA tourney. Kentucky made it to its second straight round of 16 by edging Louisville 4-3 in Lexington. Coach Dennis Emery has led Kentucky to the tournament in 22 of his 29 years at the school, but Thursday's match will mark the first time since 1992 that the Cats have been to back-to-back Sweet 16s. UK has never made it past the quarterfinals and hasn't been to the round of eight since 2002.
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■ The Kentucky women's basketball program announced Wednesday the dates for three camps in June to be conducted by Coach Matthew Mitchell and his staff: June 12-15: girls entering grades 5-12. June 24-26: girls entering grades 7-12. June 27-29: Girls entering grades 2-8. Register UKathletics.com or call (859) 257-6046 for more information.
3 SEC baseball heavyweights vie for title
There have been several seasons when 20 victories were enough to win the Southeastern Conference baseball title.
"Not going to work this time," South Carolina Coach Ray Tanner said Wednesday. The league's three powerhouse programs — Florida, Vanderbilt and the Gamecocks — are tied atop the league with 20-7 records entering the final regular-season weekend.
"There's going to be a lot of emotional baseball played," Vanderbilt Coach Tim Corbin said this week.
Florida (39-14), the defending SEC champions, closes the season at home against Kentucky (24-28, 7-20). Vanderbilt (42-8) travels to Georgia, and South Carolina (42-11) will play at Alabama. All three series start Thursday. The SEC says there could be co-champions or tri-champions by the end of the weekend. The Gamecocks, though, hold the edge in a two- or three-way tie for the top seed in next week's SEC Tournament after winning two of three against both the Gators and Commodores earlier this year. Florida beat Vanderbilt in two of three last weekend and would get the higher seed if they finish tied. Florida, Vanderbilt and South Carolina were picked 1-2-3 in the divisional pre-season rankings but have dominated both divisions with a combined 33-9 mark against the West. All three have risen to No. 1 in national college baseball polls and appear locks to be among the top-eight national seeds when NCAA Tournament selections come out May 30.
UK hasn't won a series against the Gators since taking two games in Lexington in 2008. UK is switching up its rotation because of the midweek start and will send out sophomore lefty Taylor Rogers (2-6, 5.01 ERA) on Thursday against Florida's ace right-hander, Hudson Randall (8-2, 2.14). Kentucky ace Alex Meyer (6-5, 3.06) will pitch Friday.
SPORTS IN THE COURTS
Giants fan opens eyes but is still critical
A San Francisco Giants fan who was brutally beaten on opening day at Dodger Stadium is opening his eyes but remains in critical condition at San Francisco General Hospital, the medical center's chief neurosurgeon said Wednesday. Bryan Stow has been weaned off one of five anti-seizure medications since arriving Monday from a Los Angeles hospital where he had been in a coma after being attacked in March, Dr. Geoff Manley said. Stow's brain also did not show any seizure activity during 30 hours of continuous monitoring in the hospital's intensive care unit. Manley described these developments as positive but could not predict Stow's chances for recovery. Stow, a 42-year-old paramedic and father of two, wore a Giants jersey to the March 31 season opener and was attacked by two men in Dodgers gear in a parking lot after the game. No arrests have been made.
Alabama fan indicted in tree poisoning
The Alabama fan accused of poisoning the oak trees at Auburn's Toomer's Corner has been indicted by a Lee County, Ala., grand jury on four felony charges and two misdemeanors. Harvey Updyke Jr., 62, faces two felony counts of first-degree criminal mischief, two felony counts of unlawful damage, felony vandalism or theft of property from a farm animal or crop facility and two misdemeanor counts of desecrating a venerated object, according to court documents. Updyke is scheduled for arraignment on May 26 before Lee County Circuit Court Judge Jacob A. Walker III. He has a tentative trial date of June 20.
■ Four former Auburn football players have been indicted on felony robbery and burglary charges by a Lee County grand jury. Court documents posted online Wednesday show that Michael McNeil, Antonio Goodwin, Shaun Kitchens and Dakota Mosley were indicted on five counts of first-degree robbery, one count of first-degree burglary and one count of misdemeanor third-degree theft of property. The players were pulled over and arrested shortly after five occupants of a mobile home reported being robbed at gunpoint on March 11. All four indicted players were kicked off Auburn's team after their arrests.
■ Arkansas offensive lineman Seth Oxner said Wednesday he's leaving the Razorbacks' football program, the seventh player to do so in the past week. Oxner said in a statement released by the school Wednesday that he has graduated from Arkansas but he won't return next season. The redshirt senior started every game at center during the 2009 season but was beaten out by Travis Swanson last season and served as a backup.
Woods remains in Forbes' top 10
For his golf, Tiger Woods is about to fall out of the top 10 in the world for the first time in 14 years. For his star power, he still ranks ahead of any other athlete. Woods, whose last win came 18 months ago at the Australian Masters, will drop to at least No. 11 in the next world rankings published Monday. It will be the first time he is out of the top 10 since he was No. 13 on April 6, 1997, the week before he won the Masters for the first of his 14 majors. Forbes, meanwhile, says he's still the No. 1 celebrity in the sports world. Woods checks in at No. 6 on Forbes' annual Celebrity 100 list of the most powerful people or groups in the entertainment business.
■ Heather O'Reilly had a goal and an assist to lead the United States to a 2-0 win over Japan on Wednesday night at Cary, N.C., in the Americans' next-to-last exhibition before the Women's World Cup. Amy Rodriguez also scored, and Hope Solo made three saves in her second straight shutout to help the United States claim its second win over Japan in a five-day span and its third of the year. The Americans wrap up their pre-World Cup exhibition schedule June 5 against Mexico. Three weeks later, they play their World Cup opener against Korea in Dresden, Germany.
■ Murray State will play in the 2011 Carrs Safeway Great Alaska Shootout at Alaska-Anchorage, the host school announced Wednesday. The Racers will face California-Irvine in the first round of the tournament scheduled for Nov. 22-26.
■ Top WNBA Draft pick Maya Moore has become the first female basketball player to sign an endorsement deal with the Jordan Brand, a division of Nike Inc., the company announced Wednesday. In a statement issued by the company, Michael Jordan said he's "thrilled" to welcome Moore to the commercial team.
The last word
Rex Grossman has said he "definitely" thinks he'll be the starter next season for the Redskins, even though he's a free agent. John Beck has been saying he sees himself as the No. 1 — even though he hasn't played in a regular-season game since 2007. Donovan McNabb joked Wednesday about his latest involvement in a bizarre quarterback controversy for Washington:
"Maybe I'll play for the Nationals."