Jan. 10, 2009
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. -
The injury-plagued No. 23 men's tennis team was still able to battle it out and pick up four wins on Saturday at the Key Biscayne Invitational held at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park. Highlighting the day was the doubles victory earned by senior Billy Mertz and Saketh Myneni over the No. 8 ranked Michigan duo of sophomore Jason Jung and junior Michael Sroczynski. Today's match marked only the second time the Crimson pair duo has ever played together and first in two seasons.
"I think we made some improvements today, but we still didn't convert some opportunities," said head coach Billy Pate. "Our energy and intensity was better, and I felt our effort was where it needed to be. We're battling some injuries and have certainly faced a bit of adversity on this trip, but each scenario is preparing us to get better."
Alabama started its day competing in singles against No. 58 Georgia Tech where the Tide gathered three wins. Freshman Michael Thompson moved to 2-0 on the season with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over freshman Dusan Miljevic. Senior Dan Buikema also won in straight sets against sophomore Yellow Jacket Miguel Muguruza 6-2, 6-4. After dropping his first set 4-6 to Georgia Tech sophomore Doug Kenny, senior Andrew Felsenthal fought back to win the final two sets 6-3, 6-2 to capture the match win.
Five additional Alabama players competed in singles including senior Michael Jung, junior Houssam Yassine, freshman John Lewis, Mertz and Myneni. As with Felsenthal, Jung stretched his match against sophomore Ryan Smith to three sets after losing the first 7-5. Jung came back to take the second 6-4, but eventually lost the third by the same score. After spending three days traveling back to the States from home in Morocco, Yassine had little time to prepare for Yellow Jacket junior Austin Roebuck, but he still put forth strong effort extending the match to three sets. Roebuck won the first set convincingly at 6-1, but Yassine battled and took set two 6-4. The third set was even closer, but Roebuck was able to pull it out in the end winning 7-5. Lewis kept the first set tight losing 7-6, but Georgia Tech sophomore Eliot Potvin closed out the match with a 6-1 win in the second set. Mertz also dropped a two-set decision against sophomore Kevin King 6-1, 6-3, while Myneni slipped up against the 14th ranked Guillermo Gomez 6-4, 6-2.
Following singles, the Tide took to the courts for doubles play against No. 2 Texas where the Longhorns won all four matchups. Two of Alabama's matches went right down to the wire with Buikema and Myneni falling 9-7 against sophomores Ed Corrie and Kellen Damico and Lewis and Yassine stretching it to 9-8 against senior Jonah Kane-West and junior Olivier Sajous. The other two matches pitting Mertz and Thompson against the No. 25 team of juniors Dimitar Kutrovsky and Josh Zavala and sophomore Trey Walston and Felsenthal against senior Miguel Reyes Varela and junior Jon Wiegand both ended in 8-3 decisions.
Towards the end of his match against Texas, Buikema pulled a muscle and was unable to compete in doubles against No. 16 Michigan. Jung was also unable to take part in the Michigan doubles, so Pate was forced to change up the lineups and could only field three teams instead of four. Mertz and Myneni picked up the lone victory against Michigan for the afternoon, but Thompson and Felsenthal also had a close match falling 8-6 to junior George Navas and senior Peter Aarts. Lewis and Walston was the third Alabama duo competing and fell 8-4 to senior Andrew Mazlin and sophomore Chris Madden.
"We're competing against the type of competition we need to see, and we've got ideal hot and sunny conditions which are what we expect to experience in postseason this May," added Pate. "Tomorrow we'll square off against Texas in singles matches before travelling home so it will be critical we're at our best as they've got an outstanding lineup."
Next up, Alabama travels to Lexington, Ky. for the SEC Indoor Tournament Jan. 16-19. The Tide's first home event of the spring will take place on Saturday, Jan. 24 when it hosts a double header against Troy at 10:00 a.m. (CST) and Furman at 3:00 p.m. (CST).
No. 14 Guillermo Gomez (GT) def. Saketh Myneni (UA) 6-4, 6-2
Kevin King (GT) def. No. 115 Billy Mertz (UA) 6-1, 6-3
Eliot Potvin (GT) def. No. 106 John Lewis (UA) 7-6, 6-1
Michael Thompson (UA) def. Dusan Miljevic (GT) 6-3, 6-4
Dan Buikema (UA) def. Miguel Muguruza (GT) 6-2, 6-4
Ryan Smith (GT) def. Michael Jung (UA) 7-5, 4-6, 6-4
Austin Roebuck (GT) def. Houssam Yassine (UA) 6-1, 4-6, 7-5
Andrew Felsenthal (UA) def. Doug Kenny (GT) 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
Corrie/Damico (UT) def. Buikema/Myneni (UA) 9-7
No. 25 Kutrovsky/Zavala (UT) def. Mertz/Thompson (UA) 8-3
Reyes Varela/Wiegard def. Felsenthal/Walston (UA) 8-3
Kane-West/Sajous (UT) def. Lewis/Yassine (UA) 9-8
Myneni/Mertz (UA) def. No. 8 Sroczynski/Jung (UM) 8-6
Navas/Aarts (UM) def. Thompson/Felsenthal (UA) 8-6
Mazlin/Madden (UM) def. Lewis/Walston (UA) 8-4