In a match that took over five hours to complete, the 17th-ranked University of Alabama men’s tennis team had a valiant comeback fall just short, dropping a 4-3 match to No. 35 South Florida (2-2, 1-0 C-USA) on Friday.
Alabama (2-2, 0-0 SEC) started slowly in their first outdoor match of the season, losing by identical 8-4 scores in No. 2 and No. 3 doubles. At No. 1 doubles, the 13th-ranked duo of Chris Gostek and Stephen Mitchell served for the match at 7-6, but could not hold on to win it, as South Florida’s Renato Silveira and Paco Antelo fought back to win the match in a tiebreaker, 9-8 (8-6).
“South Florida is a fantastic team – very talented and very deep. We didn’t lose to a bad team,” Alabama head coach Billy Pate said. “It was a little different being outdoors for a match after only four days of practice, but we will be better as we get more experience and iron out the wrinkles.”
The Bulls were on the verge of whitewashing the Crimson Tide, up 3-0 when the Tide stormed back with singles wins from freshmen Mike Green (Port St. Lucie, Fla.) and Joseph Jung (Deerfield Beach, Fla.)
Alabama then had a chance to even the match at 3-3, but Federico Barton of South Florida overcame a match-point in the second set that would have given the Tide that point. Barton won the third set, clinching the match for South Florida.
“We fought and gave ourselves a chance to win after being down 3-0,” Pate said. “We dug a hole but we slowly turned the momentum and it looked like we would come back and take the match. (Gostek) had a match point in the second set, and he was out of gas after that.”
Alabama got its first point of the day on Jung’s win at No. 3 singles, who defeated Paco Antelo in a three-set match. The Crimson Tide also got singles wins from Green (No. 6) and senior Christian Brodersen (No. 4). The match marked the first loss in both singles and doubles for Tide freshman Eric Molar.
Alabama travels to Orlando to face Central Florida on Sunday. The Golden Knights are currently ranked No. 75 by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
#17 Alabama 3, #35 South Florida 4
1. Antelo/Silveira (USF) d. Mitchell/Gostek (UA) 9-8 (6)
2. Kiendl/Karim Benmansour (USF) d. Jung/Brodersen (UA) 8-4
3. Juan Barragan/Barton (USF) d. Molnar/RJ Murray (UA) 8-4
1. Uli Kiendl (USF) d. Stephen Mitchell (UA) 6-2, 6-3
*2. Federico Barton (UFS) d. Chris Gostek (UA) 6-7 (9), 7-6 (8), 6-1
3. Joseph Jung (UA) d. Paco Antelo (USF) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
4. Christian Brodersen (UA) d. Andy Maroldt (USF) 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (1)
5. Renato Silveira (USF) d. Eric Molnar (UA) 6-2, 6-4
6. Mike Green (UA) d. Juan Barragan (USF) 7-5, 3-6, 6-0