Wednesday, March 31, 2004
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama’s three seniors all turned in clutch singles performances Wednesday, leading the Crimson Tide men’s tennis squad to a 4-3 upset of seventh-ranked Rice in Tuscaloosa’s Hank Crisp Indoor Facility.
Alabama handed Rice (17-2) their second loss of the season, improving to 7-9 (1-5 SEC) on the season.
Senior Christian Brodersen, who has been battling a back injury and played his first match in two weeks last Sunday, won in the last match remaining on court to clinch victory for the Crimson Tide.
“I just started playing again a couple of days ago so I was a little worried about being rusty,” Brodersen said. Fortunately I was able to break serve on the first game and stay on top throughout the match.
“That win really helped us. We need to take advantage of our opportunities and get some wins to get into the NCAA tournament and today was a big one.
It three-year letterman Chris Gostek who swung the momentum for the Tide at No. 2 singles. Gostek was on a seven-match losing streak coming into the match, but walked away with a three-set marathon victory over William Barker, who is ranked 69th in the country. His 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (6) win put the Tide on top for the first time in the match, 3-2.
“Goose’s win was the key momentum-shift in the match,” Alabama head coach Billy Pate said. “He’s been plagued lately. He’s played a lot of tough opponents and had lost some confidence in his ability to close out matches.
“I told him to go out today and be really aggressive. If he was going to lose today he was going to do it be being overly aggressive. To finish the match today he came in on some balls he normally wouldn’t, but he got away with it and had a gutsy performance.”
Senior Captain Stephen Mitchell continued to lead the Tide at the top of the lineup. His No. 1 singles win against 36th-ranked Robert Searle evened the match score, 2-2. Mitchell, who is ranked 55th in singles, has beaten six ranked opponents on the season.
It was freshman Joseph Jung who got the scoring started for the Crimson Tide with a straight-set win at No. 3 singles over Rice’s Richard Barker. Jung owns an impressive 19-8 overall record on the season.
The Crimson Tide is hoping to roll the momentum into the weekend when they host No. 11 LSU and No. 23 Arkansas in Tuscaloosa this weekend. Both matches are scheduled for 1 p.m. at the UA Student Recreation courts. The matches will be moved to the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility if there is inclement weather.
Alabama 4, #7 Rice 3
1. Barker/Barker (Rice) d. Mitchell/Gostek (UA) 9-8
2. Haerle/Rajevac (Rice) d. Jung/Murray (UA) 8-5
3. Harknett/Searle (Rice) d. Mike Green/Molnar (UA) 8-4
1. Stephen Mitchell (UA) d. Robert Searle (Rice) 6-1, 6-7, 6-4
2. Chris Gostek (UA) d. William Barker (Rice) 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (6)
3. Joseph Jung (UA) d. Richard Barker (Rice) 6-4, 6-2
4. Tony Haerle (Rice) d. Eric Molnar (UA) 6-3, 2-6, 6-4
5. Vuk Rajevac (Rice) d. RJ Murray (UA) 7-5, 6-1
6. Christian Brodersen (UA) d. Ben Harknett (Rice) 6-2, 6-4
Order of Finish - Doubles: 2-1-3 Singles: 3-4-1-2-5-6