March 7, 2010
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The No. 25 ranked men's tennis team (6-7, 0-2 SEC) dropped a 4-1 decision to second-ranked Tennessee (13-1, 2-0 SEC) on Sunday at the University of Alabama Tennis Stadium. The loss moves the Crimson Tide to 3-7 against ranked opponents on the season.
"Today's match was very similar to Friday's match," head coach Billy Pate said. "We got ourselves in a hole after doubles and mounted a comeback, but we're missing opportunities. When we've had leads in matches we haven't been able to close out. We have, however, proven we can play with anyone in the country. Tennessee is one of the top teams in the country and certainly a favorite to contend for the national title."
The Volunteers got off to a quick start in doubles action, taking at least a one-break lead on all three courts. At the No. 2 position, the fifth-ranked duo of junior Boris Conkic and freshman Rhyne Williams took down Alabama's sophomore Ricky Doverspike and freshman Jarryd Botha 8-3 behind the strength of three breaks of serve.
The No. 2 doubles tandem in the nation, junior John-Patrick Smith and senior Davey Sandgren, appeared to be in for a comfortable win on court one over senior Saketh Myneni and sophomore Michael Davis, but lost serve at love in the 5-4 game, evening the score at 5-5. Smith and Sandgren were able to earn another break at 7-7 and serve out a 9-7 victory.
At the No. 3 spot, senior Houssam Yassine and junior Trey Walston were doing their best to fight back from being down two breaks against freshman Ed Jones and junior Matteo Fago, but were still trailing 7-4 when play was halted.
Singles action did not start off much better for the Tide, with Tennessee taking the first set on four of the six courts. The first match to be completed was on court three, as No. 51 Williams took down Botha 6-2, 6-4. Williams took an early 2-0 lead in the first, while also earning an early break in the second to take full control of the match. Conkic put the Volunteers ahead 3-0 with his 7-6 (2), 6-3 victory over Doverspike at the No. 2 position. Doverspike was first to break, taking a 4-2 lead in the opening set, but was immediately broken back. The tiebreak was never close, with Conkic claiming a 2-0 lead and never dropped a point after Doverspike closed the gap at 3-2. Conkic broke at 3-2 in the second and was able to easily put the match away from there.
The next two matches ended almost simultaneously. On court five, Yassine delivered the only point of the day for the Tide by defeating senior No. 88 Matt Brewer 7-6 (4), 6-2. The first remained close throughout, but it was Yassine who went on a run in the tiebreak to win the final three points and the breaker 7-4. He quickly raced out to a 3-0 lead in the second. Brewer would battle back to 3-2, but Yassine picked up his game to win the last four games of the match. The Volunteers were able to clinch the victory seconds later thanks to a win at the No. 6 position. Fago fell behind 4-1 to Davis in the first set, but fought back to win five straight games and take the set 6-4. The second set was on serve until 3-3, when Fago broke Davis. Fago held for a 5-3 lead, and Davis was unable to hold serve again, dropping the match 6-4, 6-3.
The final two matches of the day were stopped before being completed. The battle of ranked players on court one was heading to a third set when halted. No. 38 Myneni claimed a tense 6-4 first set from No.4 Smith, breaking serve at 5-4 to win the set. Smith quickly responded, breaking to open up the second set and securing a second break in the midst of taking a 5-1 lead before the match was stopped.
Once again at the No. 4 spot, a strange score line was being produced. Sophomore Michael Thompson came out of the gates slowly and found himself down 3-0 in the first set to Tennessee freshman Tennys Sandgren. Sandgren cruised to take the first set 6-1. In the second, the roles were completely reversed, as Thompson did not yield a game en route to winning the set 6-0 and forcing a third. The two players broke serve in each of the three games played in the final set, with Sandgren holding a 2-1 lead.
Next up, Alabama hits the road for the first time in SEC play, taking on South Carolina and Florida. The Tide will face the No. 41 Gamecocks on Friday, March 12 at 2:00 p.m. (CST) and the No. 7 Gators on Sunday, March 14 at 1:00 p.m. (CST).
1. No. 2 Smith/Sandgren (UT) def. Myneni/Davis (UA) 9-7
2. No. 5 Conkic/Williams (UT) def. Doverspike/Botha (UA) 8-3
3. Walston/Yassine (UA) vs. Jones/Fago (UT) 4-7, unf.
Order of Finish: 2,1
1. No. 38 Saketh Myneni (UA) vs. No. 4 John-Patrick Smith (UT) 6-4, 1-5, unf.
2. Boris Conkic (UT) def. Ricky Doverspike (UA) 7-6 (7-2), 6-3
3. No. 51 Rhyne Williams (UT) def. Jarryd Botha (UA) 6-2, 6-4
4. Michael Thompson (UA) vs. Tennys Sandgren (UT) 1-6, 6-0, 1-2, unf.
5. Houssam Yassine (UA) def. No. 88 Matt Brewer (UT) 7-6 (7-4), 6-2
6. Matteo Fago (UT) def. Michael Davis (UA) 6-4, 6-3
Order of Finish: 3,2,5,6*