Men's Tennis Edged by Auburn 4-3
April 17, 2010
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The 29th-ranked men's tennis team (13-12, 4-7 SEC) dropped a close 4-3 match Saturday to No. 39 Auburn (9-11, 5-6 SEC) at the University of Alabama Tennis Stadium. The Crimson Tide got in an early hole after losing the doubles point and was able to claim three wins in singles coming up just shy of the comeback.
"As usual we had our chances," head coach Billy Pate said. "It seemed like all of our matches have been going down to the wire lately. Aside from the obvious disappointment of losing on Senior Day and losing to Auburn, is that we had leads in three of the first sets we lost in singles. I thought we did a great job rebounding after doubles. We had momentum early, but it turned quickly after we didn't finish off on those matches we were ahead in."
Alabama got in an early hole after dropping the doubles point with losses on courts one and three. First to finish up was the matchup at No. 3 where the Auburn duo of freshmen Tim Hewitt and Lucas Lopasso topped Tide junior Trey Walston and freshman Jarryd Botha 8-5. The match was on serve until the Tiger tandem picked up a break to pull ahead 4-2. That was all Auburn needed as both teams remained on serve for the duration of the contest.
Next off the courts was the matchup at No. 2 where Alabama sophomores Ricky Doverspike and Michael Thompson stormed off to a 4-0 lead over Tiger freshmen Andy Mies and Alexander Sajonz. The Tide pair held for the duration of the frame picking up an 8-4 win. The doubles point would come down to the match at No. 1 featuring Auburn's 17th-ranked team of junior Tim Puetz and sophomore Alex Stamchev against Alabama's 86th-ranked duo of senior Saketh Myneni and sophomore Michael Davis. The Tigers took a commanding 5-1 lead and never looked back picking up an 8-4 victory to give Auburn the doubles point.
In singles, Botha evened the dual match score at 1-1 with a dominant 6-1, 6-0 win at No. 4 over Lopasso. Finishing second was the duel on court one, which was the match's lone battle of ranked opponents in singles. Myneni, currently No. 28 in the nation, rolled in his first set allowing No. 21 Puetz to hold serve just once for the 6-1 win in the first. The second set was closer throughout before Myneni put it away winning the final two games for a 6-4 victory.
Auburn grabbed its first singles point of the match with a win at No. 6 as Mies earned a 6-4, 6-4 win over Davis. Davis overcame an 0-2 start in the first to jump on top 4-2, but the Tiger freshman stormed back winning next four games. In the second set, it was Davis that took the early advantage, however Mies would make a repeat run taking the frame by the same score. Auburn collected its next win at No. 3 bringing the Tigers within one of the dual match victory. Hewitt narrowly edged Thompson 7-6(4) in the first in a set that was tightly contested throughout. The second set was different story as the Auburn netter jumped out to a 5-1 lead and eventually took the set 6-2.
Tide senior Houssam Yassine made the most of his last match in Tuscaloosa with a win at No. 5 to tie the dual match at 3-3. Yassine fought off a late scare in the first set by freshman Oliver Strecker to win the opening frame 6-4, before Strecker came back to take the second set 6-3. In the third it was all Yassine as the Alabama senior won 6-3.
The match clincher came down to the duel on court two where the Tide's Doverspike and Auburn's 109th-ranked Stamchev battled it out in three sets. Stamchev would make a huge comeback in the first after falling behind 5-2 to take the set 7-6(5). Doverspike rebounded in the second for a 6-2 win, however Stamchev would come back big in the third for the 6-1 victory.
"Houssam (Yassine) managed to comeback giving us a good opportunity to win," Pate added. "I thought Ricky's (Doverspike) opponent did a better job of finishing in the third set."
Next up, Alabama heads to Lexington, Ky., for the 2010 SEC Men's Tennis Championships beginning Thursday, April 22. The No.8-seed Tide will take on No. 9-seed LSU at 5:00 p.m. (CST).