LEXINGTON, Ky. (7/17/13) – Former head coach Dennis Emery, 2013 All-American Anthony Rossi, All-Southeastern Conference performer Doug Tough and SEC doubles champion Jack Webb will all be inducted into the Robert Purnell University of Kentucky Tennis Hall of Fame as the class of 2013, it was announced on Wednesday afternoon.
The new inductees will be enshrined into the hall of fame on the night of Tuesday, July 23 during the Fifth Third Bank Tennis Championships at 7:00 p.m. ET on Ryan Holder Center Court at the Hilary J. Boone Varsity Tennis Center in Lexington, Ky.
The first inductee for 2013 is Tough, who hails from Canada and was recruited to Lexington by Richard Vimont to play for the Wildcats. Tough was a transformational player for the Wildcats, as he helped upgrade the Wildcats’ talent level in the SEC. Tough represented his native Canada in the Junior Davis Cup, which was for players 21 and under and held overseas in Europe. Tough was one of few players to play at the one and two slot in both singles and doubles throughout his entire career in the Blue and White. Tough was named All-SEC in 1971 after leading the Wildcats to yet another successful season.
Tough’s post-college career is even more impressive than his on-court resume, as he has served in many high-profile positions since his time in Lexington. Tough was the President and Chief Executive Officer of Dr. Pepper and 7up Inc., from 2000-03, and he currently serves as the Chairman and CEO of International Flavors and Fragrances, based in New York.
“I knew he was a natural leader when we recruited him to the University of Kentucky,” Vimont said about Tough.
Emery added that “Doug is exactly what this hall of fame is all about. He is someone who defines the term student-athlete. He excelled on the court and then represented this university all over the world in positions of great prestige.”
Webb is the second inductee in the class of 2013. Webb is one of the most decorated UK tennis players in terms of SEC performances in the program’s storied history. Webb played the number one and two positions for three seasons at Kentucky and earned All-SEC honors in 1978. Webb won the SEC Doubles Championship as a freshman from the number three position in 1978. A year prior, in 1977, Webb reached the No. 3 singles final and followed that up in 1978 as the runner up in the No. 2 singles finals.
“Jack was as sure a point for our teams in doubles as singles and helped us win many matches,” former head coach Graddy Johnson said. “With his consistent, power-serve and volley game. He made all SEC twice I believe; and he was selected captain two years in a row as well. His overall win-loss record was one of Kentucky's most outstanding in history, even though he always played near the top of our lineup in both doubles and singles. Beyond winning, Jack trained and practiced extremely hard, getting better each month of his career with us. He was a top student, a leader on campus and dated a lovely young lady named Sue, who became his wife and mother of their two children.”
“On his recruiting weekend, I picked Jack up on Friday, and then returned him to the Cincinnati Airport Sunday,” Johnson said. “Of course we wanted him badly, but I knew he was being heavily recruited by two strong SEC powers at that same time, so I worried we might not be able to compete with Tennessee and Georgia. But we took Jack to a UK basketball game, knowing he liked basketball, he met his potential teammates, had a nice visit and we got along well talking alone on the 90-minute drives together. He was smart and well-versed on so many things that I had positive vibes that he simply had too much sense to play for Dan Magill or Louis Royal. Soon afterwards, he called and told me he had decided to come to Kentucky and we had landed a real star.”
“During and after a very successful freshman season, Jack played a pivotal role in our recruitment of his brother, Scott Webb, a year younger and almost as good,” Johnson said. “We ended up with two of the finest people and players I was ever privileged to coach. Wish we could have had six more athletes like the Webb brothers.
“I coached at Austin Peay and had the opportunity to compete against Jack and coach Graddy Johnson’s team,” Emery said. “I remember Jack as a very intimidating player indoors on the fast courts at the Lexington Tennis Club. Jack was a big guy with a big serve who didn’t give you many chances to play your game. At the same time, he was a team captain who led his team to some great seasons.”
2013 graduate and All-American Rossi is the third inductee of the class of 2013. Rossi finished his career with a No. 6 national ranking in singles, the highest of his storied career in his four years. Rossi is one of only 15 players in UK history to eclipse the 100-win mark in his career, as he finished with 107 career wins. Rossi ranks third in all-time winning percentage at Kentucky, only behind Eric Quigley and Jesse Witten in the rankings. In addition, Rossi was the 2012 SEC Indoor Champion in singles, one of only three UK players ever to win the event.
Most impressive about Rossi’s career is that the Marseille, France, native is the only player in UK tennis history to play on teams that reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament all four years of his career, including making the Elite Eight in 2011.
“When I watched Anthony play in the first day of practice, I knew he was a special talent,” Emery said. “What Cedric (Kauffmann) and I could not predict was the amount of character that he had and the amazing competitiveness that he had. He is certainly a great athlete, but I think the thing that allowed him to reach such great heights was his intangibles.”
The final inductee is Emery, who coached UK for 30 years. Emery ranks third all-time in coaching at Kentucky only behind Adolph Rupp and Keith Madison, has coached nearly 50 percent of UK’s all-time matches and scored nearly half of Kentucky’s wins at the time of his retirement. Emery’s teams won two SEC Championships, one SEC Tournament Championship, and placed second four times at the SEC Tournament.
At Kentucky, Emery coached 39 All-Americans in 30 years, including three NCAA singles finalists in Carlos Drada (2000), Jesse Witten (2002) and Eric Quigley (2012). In the NCAA Tournament, he had four teams reach the Elite Eight and 11 teams reach the Sweet 16. Remarkably consistent in his career, he had 23 teams finish in the top 25 in the country and 18 teams finished in the top 16 of the national rankings. At the time of his retirement, he ranked second all-time in SEC wins, only behind Dan Magill of Georgia.
Information provided by Chris Shoals (UK Athletics)
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