March 19, 2009
MONTGOMERY, Ala. - The 24th-ranked men’s tennis team (13-2, 3-1 SEC) picked up a 4-0 win Thursday over No. 56 Middle Tennessee State (7-8, 0-0 Sun Belt) to advance to the next round of the Blue Gray National Collegiate Tennis Classic held at Lagoon Park Tennis Center.
“Middle Tennessee is a dangerous team,” said head coach Billy Pate. “They’ve had some injuries and even with that really gave us a tough match. We knew it was going to be a battle going in.”
Alabama pulled ahead early after earning the doubles point over the Blue Raiders. First off the court for the Tide was the 49th-ranked duo of senior Billy Mertz and junior Saketh Myneni with a dominant 8-3 win at No. 2 over senior Morgan Richard and junior Alex McCann. The Blue Raiders 51st-ranked pair of sophomore John Peers and senior Robert McKenzie evened things up shortly after with an 8-4 win at No. 1 over Alabama seniors Dan Buikema and Mathieu Thibaudeau, who are currently ranked No. 35. With all the pressure on court three, senior Andrew Felsenthal and freshman Ricky Doverspike delivered as they secured the doubles point with an 8-4 win over junior Victor Melo and freshman Matthew Langley.
Before anyone could blink, Mertz was off the court at No. 5 singles with a commanding 6-1, 6-1 win over McCann to give the Tide a 2-0 advantage. Fellow senior Michael Jung was easily in control of his match as well defeating Langley at No. 6 6-1, 6-3. The remaining four matches were extremely close with two forced to a first-set tiebreak. With Alabama in need of just one more point to secure the match, both freshman Michael Thompson and Myneni were serving for match point on their respective courts. It would be Thompson finishing first at No. 3 with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Melo to send the Tide to the advancing draw.
Next up, Alabama plays No. 29 Wisconsin on Friday, March 20 at 11:00 a.m. (CST). The Badgers advanced by beating No. 75 Hawaii 4-2 on Thursday.
“It was good for us to get the doubles point and get off the courts fairly quickly,” added Pate. “That will help us to rest and prepare for tomorrow. Our match against Wisconsin is going to be another grind similar to today’s match.”
For more information on the tournament, visit bluegraytennis.com or click here.
1. No. 51 McKenzie/Peers (MTSU) def. No. 35 Buikema/Thibaudeau (UA) 8-4
2. No. 49 Mertz/Myneni (UA) def. Richard/McCann (MTSU) 8-3
3. Doverspike/Felsenthal (UA) def. Melo/Langley (MTSU) 8-4
Order of Finish: 2,1,3
1. No. 32 Saketh Myneni (UA) vs. No. 124 Robert McKenzie (MTSU) 3-6, 6-3, 5-0, unf.
2. No. 76 Mathieu Thibaudeau (UA) led No. 104 John Peers (MTSU) 7-6(5), 2-5, unf.
3. Michael Thompson (UA) def. Victor Melo (MTSU) 6-1, 6-4
4. Dan Buikema (UA) vs. Morgan Richard (MTSU) 7-6(7), 1-6, 1-2, unf.
5. Billy Mertz (UA) def. Alex McCann (MTSU) 6-1, 6-1
6. Michael Jung (UA) def. Matthew Langley (MTSU) 6-1, 6-3
Order of Finish:5,6,3*