April 9, 2010
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The 28th-ranked men's tennis team outlasted No. 55 Mississippi State 4-3 Friday at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre. The Crimson Tide (11-10, 4-5 SEC) trailed the Bulldogs (8-10, 1-7 SEC) 3-1 before rallying to claim the final three points of the match for the win.
"It was a gutsy performance by our team today," head coach Billy Pate said. "Mississippi State is a very well-coached, tough team, and they really played an inspired match."
Alabama found itself in a hole early after dropping the doubles point with losses at No. 1 and No. 3. First off was the matchup on court one where Mississippi State sophomores George Coupland and Artem Ilyushin got on top early and remained in control of the Tide's 64th-ranked pair of senior Saketh Myneni and sophomore Michael Davis for the 8-4 win. The Bulldogs secured the doubles point moments later at No. 3 where sophomore Louis Cant and senior Christopher Doerr earned a late break to top Alabama junior Trey Walston and freshman Jarryd Botha 8-6. The matchup on court two was suspended at 5-5 once the point was claimed.
In singles, reigning SEC Player of the Week senior Saketh Myneni, ranked No. 31 in the nation, downed 67th-ranked Cant 6-4, 6-2 to put the Tide on the board. Next off was the matchup on court six where Mississippi State sophomore Daniel Sanchez edged Davis 7-5, 7-5 giving the Bulldogs their second point of the match. Mississippi State grabbed its third point of the match with a win at No. 3 as 125th-ranked Coupland came out on top 7-6(3), 6-2 over Thompson.
The final three points went in favor of Alabama providing a down-to-the-wire finish. On court five, senior Houssam Yassine cruised to a 6-3 win in the first, but had to battle it out in a tiebreaker in the second. The Tide netter took the 7-6(6) advantage over Bulldog junior Antonio Lastre to earn Alabama's second win of the day. Botha provided third-set heroics for Alabama at the No. 4 spot coming out on top 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(5) to tie the dual match at 3-3.
The deciding match came down to the duel on court two where Doverspike and Ilyushin were each winners of a 6-4 decision sending the contest into a third set. The frame remained on serve and would eventually be played out into a tiebreaker where it was all Doverspike as the Tide netter won seven points to two.
"It took a great effort today, particularly with Jarryd and Ricky having to win third-set tiebreakers to get the win," Pate added. "That's not an easy way to get it done, but I couldn't be more proud of our effort. Coaches Bo (Hodge) and Paul (Thoesen) did a great job managing those two matches down the stretch to help us be successful."
Alabama continues its road swing in Mississippi on Sunday when it takes on the 17th-ranked Rebels. Opening serve is slated for 1:00 p.m. (CST).
1. Coupland/Ilyushin (MSU) def. No. 64 Davis/Myneni (UA) 8-4
2. Doverspike/Thompson (UA) vs. Sanchez/Stump (MSU) 5-5, unf.
3. Cant/Doerr (MSU) def. Botha/Walston (UA) 8-6
Order of Finish: 1,3
1. No. 31 Saketh Myneni (UA) def. No. 67 Louis Cant (MSU) 6-4, 6-2
2. Ricky Doverspike (UA) def. Artem Ilyushin (MSU) 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(2)
3. No. 125 George Coupland (MSU) def. Michael Thompson (UA) 7-6(3), 6-2
4. Jarryd Botha (UA) def. Max Gregor (MSU) 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(5)
5. Houssam Yassine (UA) def. Antonio Lastre (MSU) 6-3, 7-6(6)
6. Daniel Sanchez (MSU) def. Michael Davis (UA) 7-5, 7-5
Order of Finish: 1,6,3,5,4,2*