April 4, 2010
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The No. 33 men’s tennis team (10-10, 3-5 SEC) knocked off No. 50 Arkansas (9-11, 1-7 SEC) 4-0 on Sunday at the University of Alabama Tennis Stadium. The Crimson Tide battled past the Razorbacks to take the doubles point before cruising in singles play to clinch the victory.
“This was a great weekend for us to pick up a pair of wins in the Southeastern Conference,” head coach Billy Pate said. “That is something that doesn’t come easily in this league. We were fortunate to win the doubles point even though we came out kind of slow. It was a close point.”
Doubles action went down to the wire, and appeared to be in Arkansas’ control most of the way, however, Alabama claimed the first match winning 8-4 on court two. The sophomore duo of Ricky Doverspike and Michael Thompson earned the first break at 3-3, breaking again at 6-4 to take full control over junior Matthew Hogan and sophomore Matt Walters.
The Tide clinched the doubles point thanks to senior Saketh Myneni and sophomore Michael Davis, ranked No. 64, fighting to an 8-6 win at the No. 1 position over junior Chris Nott and senior Dmitry Lebedev, ranked No. 68. It looked as if the Razorback tandem was in control, breaking serve twice to take a 6-3 lead, but Myneni and Davis staged a dramatic comeback. Nott and Lebedev would not earn another game in the match, as the Alabama pair broke serve three times in a row, including winning on match point thanks to a double fault. On court three, Arkansas’ seniors Bradwin Williams and Taylor King had staked a 7-5 lead by claiming the only break of the match at 5-4 against junior Trey Walston and freshman Jarryd Botha, but play was stopped when the Tide won the doubles point.
Alabama wasted little time jumping ahead in singles, taking four of the six first sets. On court two, Doverspike broke twice in the opening set to take it 6-1 over Lebedev. The second set remained on serve until 3-3, but Doverspike’s took the final three games of the match for a 6-1, 6-3 win. Thompson and freshman Greg Lehmann struggled throughout the entire first set to hold serve, as the set featured six breaks. Thompson was able to collect four of those breaks, taking the set 6-2. In the second, Thompson was much more stable on serve, just dropping serve once after racing out to a 3-0 lead. He continued to dominate with his return, breezing through the match 6-2, 6-2.
The battle of nationally-ranked players on court one turned out to be the clincher for the Tide. No. 31 Myneni broke early in the first against No. 60 Nott, and that was all Myneni needed en route to taking the set 6-3. The second set was on serve until 3-2, when Myneni once again broke, taking a 4-2 lead. Nott was able to hold serve the rest of the set, but could not break Myneni, who claimed the victory 6-3, 6-3.
The final three matches were suspended once Alabama clinched the win. At the No. 3 position, Botha dropped the opening set 6-3 to Hogan, falling behind two breaks quickly and was only able to recover one of them. Botha drew first blood in the second, but quickly gave the break back in the next game. Botha was leading 4-3 in the second when play was halted. On court five, senior Houssam Yassine was in cruise control against Walters. Yassine earned three breaks in the opening set to take it 6-1, and the second set was on serve at 3-3. At the No. 6 spot, freshman Ian Chadwell had a 5-1 lead over Ward, but Ward made a furious comeback to take the set 7-5. The second was tied at 2-2 when the match was stopped.
“We did a great job in singles of jumping out to leads on most courts, which is something we haven’t been able to do as much as we’d like to,” Pate added. “I think that was the key for us today in grabbing the win, especially as quickly as we did.”
Next up, Alabama travels to Mississippi State and Mississippi for its final SEC road matches of the season. The Tide will take on the Bulldogs Friday, April 9 at 3:00 p.m. (CST) before heading to Oxford for a showdown with the Rebels on Sunday, April 11 at 1:00 p.m. (CST).
1. No. 64 Davis/Myneni (UA) def. No. 68 Nott/Lebedev (ARK) 8-6
2. Doverspike/Thompson (UA) def. Hogan/Walters (ARK) 8-4
3. Botha/Walston (UA) vs. Williams/King (ARK) 5-7, unf.
Order of Finish:2,1
1. No. 31 Saketh Myneni (UA) def. No. 60 Chris Nott (ARK) 6-3, 6-3
2. Ricky Doverspike (UA) def. Dmitry Lebedev (ARK) 6-1, 6-3
3. Jarryd Botha (UA) vs. Matt Hogan (ARK) 3-6, 4-3, unf.
4. Michael Thompson (UA) def. Greg Lehmann (ARK) 6-2, 6-2
5. Houssam Yassine (UA) vs. Matt Walters (ARK) 6-1, 3-3, unf.
6. Ian Chadwell (UA) vs. Mike Ward (ARK) 5-7, 2-2, unf.
Order of Finish: 2,4,1*