May 15, 2010
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The men’s tennis team dropped a 4-2 decision Saturday to East Tennessee State in the first round of the 2010 NCAA Championships at Barksdale Stadium on the University of Tennessee campus. With the loss, the Crimson Tide finishes the season with an overall record of 13-14, while the Buccaneers improve to 16-7.
“I give credit to ETSU,” head coach Billy Pate said. “We knew it would be a close match, and we would need to perform well to win. I'm very disappointed to not advance, but we had some adversity which we were not able to overcome for much of the second half of the spring. This is not the finish, or the standard we want to set for our program and we will work tirelessly to be better."
Alabama started off the match strong by securing the early lead with wins at No. 1 and No. 3 doubles. First to finish was the matchup on court one where senior Saketh Myneni and sophomore Ricky Doverspike earned an 8-4 victory over East Tennessee State juniors Charles Bottoni and Grega Teraz. The Tide tandem grabbed an early break to take the 3-1 edge and never allowed the Buccaneer team to break back. Myneni and Doverspike would go on to win four of the last five games to close out Bottoni and Teraz.
The action was much closer on courts two and three with neither team breaking until late in the set. At No. 3, junior Trey Walston and freshman Jarryd Botha remained on serve with East Tennessee State senior Daniel Isaza and sophomore Robin Akser until the Alabama pair earned a big break to take the 7-5 advantage. The Buccaneer team would win the next game to stay alive, but Walston and Botha took care of business in the following game for the 8-6 win that helped award the Tide the doubles point.
Once the point was clinched the match on court two was suspended with Alabama sophomore Michael Thompson and freshman Ian Chadwell leading 7-6. The Tide duo was down 6-4 to East Tennessee State sophomore Sander Gille and freshman Jesus Bandres before winning three consecutive games to take the lead as the match was called.
In singles, the Buccaneers’ Bottoni, ranked 104th in the nation, evened the overall match score with a win at No. 3 over Botha 6-4, 6-4. The first set was on serve until Botha broke for the 4-2 edge. Bottoni would come back to win the final four games of the set. The second would remain close until the end with Bottoni claiming the final two games for the win.
East Tennessee State took its first lead of the match moments later when freshman Juan Ramirez earned a 6-3, 6-4 win at the No. 6 spot over Walston. Ramirez got up big in the first taking a 4-0 lead and never looked back. The second was similar with the Buccaneer netter pulling in front 3-0, however this time Walston would attempt to stage a comeback tying the set at 4-4. Ramirez went on to win the final pair of games for the victory.
Myneni, ranked No. 21, posted Alabama’s lone singles win of the afternoon bringing the dual match score to 2-2 with a win on court one. The Tide senior easily cruised past Teraz 6-2 in the first set winning the last four games, but the second set would be much closer. Teraz broke for the 4-3 lead before Myneni came back to get the match back on serve. The second would eventually be decided in a tiebreaker with Myneni coming out on top 8-6.
East Tennessee State got back on top as Isaza topped Tide senior Houssam Yassine in three sets. Yassine led early in the first and went on to take the set 6-3. Isaza dominated late in the second frame winning four of the last five games for the 6-2 win sending the match to a third. The set was on serve until the Buccaneer netter broke for the 5-3 lead and served out for the win taking the third by a score of 6-3.
East Tennessee State got another three-set victory, this time coming on court two, for the dual match win and the right to advance to the second round of the tournament. Alabama’s Doverspike won three straight games to close out the first 6-3, but it would be Gille winning the second with a late break for the 6-4 victory. The third remained on serve to the end when Gille would, once again, win the final two games taking the set 7-5.
The match on court five, which was at 1-1 in the third set, was suspended once the dual match win was clinched. The Buccaneers’ Akser came back from a 5-0 deficit to win the first 7-5, and the Tide’s Thompson took the second in a tiebreaker 7-6(3).
“We did a good job early in the match getting the doubles point and establishing some leads in several matches,” Pate added. “We lost focus and simply didn't maintain that momentum while letting ETSU back in the match. It’s a tough loss in what turned out to be challenging season.”
1. Myneni/Doverspike (UA) def. Bottoni/Teraz (ETSU) 8-4
2. Chadwell/Thompson (UA) vs. Gille/Bandres (ETSU) 7-6, unf.
3. Botha/Walston (UA) def. Akser/Isaza (ETSU) 8-6
Order of Finish: 1,3
1. No. 21 Saketh Myneni (UA) def. Grega Teraz (ETSU) 6-2, 7-6(6)
2. Sander Gille (ETSU) def. Ricky Doverspike (UA) 3-6, 6-4, 7-5
3. No. 104 Charles Bottoni (ETSU) def. Jarryd Botha (UA) 6-4, 6-4
4. Daniel Isaza (ETSU) def. Houssam Yassine (UA) 3-6, 6-2, 6-3
5. Michael Thompson (UA) vs. Robin Akser (ETSU) 5-7, 7-6(3), 1-1, unf.
6. Juan Ramirez (ETSU) def. Trey Walston (UA) 6-3, 6-4
Order of Finish: 3,6,1,4,2*