April 22, 2010
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The 31st-ranked men's tennis team (13-13) dropped a hard-fought 4-2 decision Thursday to No. 48 LSU (8-14) in the first round of the SEC Championships at the Hillary J. Boone Tennis Complex. The Crimson Tide lost a close doubles point and was narrowly edged in singles falling in a pair in third sets.
"It was yet another down-to-the-wire match separated by only one or two points," head coach Billy Pate said. "It's excruciating to lose these, but our guys have been fighting their tails off. I'm proud of their effort."
LSU squeaked by Alabama in doubles as the decision came down to a tiebreaker on court one. First to finish was the matchup at No. 3 where sophomore Ricky Doverspike and freshman Ian Chadwell picked up an 8-6 win over sophomore Mark Bowtell and junior Julien Gauthier. The Tigers evened the doubles count with a win on court two as freshmen Stefan Szacinski and Roger Anderson took down junior Trey Walston and freshman Jarryd Botha 8-5. The contest at No. 1 was a battle to the end as the Tide senior pair of Saketh Myneni and Houssam Yassine took the 55th-ranked duo of sophomore Neal Skupski and junior Sebastian Carlsson to a tiebreaker. The LSU tandem would end up taking the win 9-8(4) giving the Tigers the early point.
In singles, Walston got Alabama on the board with a dominant 6-0, 6-3 victory at No. 6 over junior Cody Loup. LSU would grab its second point of the match on court five as Szacinski topped Chadwell 6-3, 6-3. Yassine continued his solid singles play racking up his 13th win of the dual match season with a 7-5, 6-3 decision over Gauthier.
The remaining three matches on court would each go to a third set with the Tigers taking two of them for the dual match win. At No. 2, Bowtell earned a 7-6(3), 1-6, 6-3 win over Doverspike setting up for the clincher to come down to court one or court three. The matchup at No. 3 was closer to a finish at that time, however Botha was down 5-3 to No. 121 Carlsson. Botha came up big to tie the frame at 5-5 and eventually took the lead at 6-5. Carlsson would even the set at 6-6 forcing a tiebreaker where the LSU netter emerged victorious 7-4.
On court one, No. 22 Myneni took the first set 6-2 over No. 52 Skupski, and Skupski edged Myneni 6-4 in the second. Myneni was dominating the third 5-2 when the match was called.
"We were minus two starters and Saketh (Myneni) was really battling through a lot of pain in his shoulder," Pate added. "Trey (Walston) did a really good job coming into the lineup at No. 6 and giving us a point. Though it is disappointing not to advance in the SEC Tournament, we have a few weeks to recharge, get healthy and prepare for NCAA selections."
Alabama now awaits the NCAA Championship selection show, which airs May 4.
1. No. 55 Skupski/Carlsson (LSU) def. Myneni/Yassine (UA) 9-8(4)
2. Szacinski/Anderson (LSU) def. Botha/Walston (UA) 8-5
3. Doverspike/Chadwell (UA) def. Bowtell/Gauthier (LSU) 8-6
Order of Finish: 3,2,1
1. No. 22 Saketh Myneni (UA) vs. No. 52 Neal Skupski (LSU) 6-2, 4-6, 5-2, unf.
2. Mark Bowtell (LSU) def. Ricky Doverspike (UA) 7-6(3), 1-6, 6-3
3. No. 121 Sebastian Carlsson (LSU) def. Jarryd Botha (UA) 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(4)
4. Houssam Yassine (UA) def. Julien Gauthier (LSU) 7-5, 6-3
5. Stefan Szacinski (LSU) def. Ian Chadwell (UA) 6-3, 6-3
6. Trey Walston (UA) def. Cody Loup (LSU) 6-0, 6-3
Order of Finish: 6,5,4,2,3*