Men's Tennis Beats No. 16 Pepperdine 4-2
Feb. 26, 2010
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The No. 28 men's tennis team (4-5) battled past the No. 16 Pepperdine Waves (4-4) for a 4-2 victory on Friday at the University of Alabama Tennis Stadium. With the win, the Crimson Tide remains undefeated at home on the season.
"This was a much-needed win for our team," head coach Billy Pate said. "We've played a really tough schedule thus far this year and have had a lot of close battles early on. The guys really had a renewed sense of energy today and stepped up to rally around each other."
Alabama managed to grab the doubles point after picking up wins on courts two and three. Sophomores Michael Thompson and Ricky Doverspike got the Tide started with an 8-4 win at the No. 2 spot over sophomore Hugh Clarke and freshman Finn Tearney. The Pepperdine duo broke early for a 2-0 lead, but lost serve four times throughout the match. The Waves answered back by picking up a win at the No. 1 position. Senior Bassam Beidas and sophomore Alex Llompart fell behind early, but then stormed back to take a 7-3 lead over senior Saketh Myneni and sophomore Michael Davis. Myneni and Davis battled back to 7-6, but couldn't break serve again and lost 8-6.
The doubles point came down to the match on court three, which was claimed by senior Houssam Yassine and junior Trey Walston, knocking off freshman Sebastian Fanselow and sophomore Jenson Turner 8-6. The teams exchanged early breaks, but it was Yassine and Walston who would earn a break for a 4-3 lead and hold serve the rest of the way for an 8-6 victory.
Myneni got Alabama off to a hot start in singles action, quickly wiping away No. 44 Beidas 6-2, 6-2. Myneni, ranked No. 61 in the nation, was in control the entire match at the No. 1 spot, earning two breaks of serve in each set. Pepperdine finally got on the board thanks to Fanselow's 6-0, 6-3 win on court three over Thompson. Thompson managed to stake a 2-0 lead in the second, but Fanselow would battle back to 2-2 and only drop one more game from there.
The Waves tied the overall score at 2-2 when No. 115 Tearney fought past freshman Ian Chadwell 6-3, 7-6(5) at the No. 5 spot. Tearney broke Chadwell three times in the first set, but could not manage to pull away in the second. The tiebreak stayed on serve until 5-4, when Tearney claimed the only mini-break he would need to take the match.
Doverspike put the Tide back in the lead with his three-set victory on court two. He dropped the opening set 6-3 to Llompart, and was forced to break Llompart's serve at 5-4 in the second just to stay alive in the match. Doverspike ended up taking the final three games of the set to win 7-5 and force a third. He quickly jumped ahead with a break of Llompart for a 2-0 lead, having to hold off one final push to win the match 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.
The final two matches would be decided in three sets. On court six, Davis and Moss were involved in several intense rallies. It appeared the match would be an easy win for Davis, who took the opening set 6-1 with ease. Moss won the first two games of the second set, but Davis rallied for a 3-2 lead. Moss would regain control of the set again, earning a chance to serve for the set at 5-3, which he failed to capitalize on. The set was eventually decided in a tiebreak, which Moss fought to win seven points to five. The Alabama sophomore rebounded from the tough tiebreak loss, racing out to a 4-0 lead in the third. Moss took the next two games to put some pressure on Davis, who responded by winning the final two games of the match to deliver the clinching victory.
On the court right next to the Davis/Moss encounter was the other tense three-set match between Yassine and freshman Mousheg Hovhannisyan. Again, it looked like it would be another quick match in favor of the Tide, with Yassine taking the first set 6-2. The second set featured a few momentum swings before heading into a tiebreak. In the tiebreak, Yassine had two match points which he failed to convert, and Hovhannisyan finally broke through for the set 10 points to eight. He kept the momentum in the third, claiming an early break. Yassine was battling cramps throughout the final set, and although he was able to stay within striking distance, the match was stopped with Yassine trailing 4-3 after Davis clinched the match for Alabama.
"Doubles was such a critical point for us today," Pate added. "We haven't been as good there as we'd like to be. Pepperdine is a very good team from top to bottom in singles, so it took a tremendous effort to get three singles wins today."
Next up, the Tide will take part in a doubleheader on Sunday when it hosts Eastern Kentucky at 10:00 a.m. (CST) followed by Winthrop at 3:00 p.m. (CST). All action takes places at the Alabama Tennis Stadium. Admission is free.