Friday, April 08, 2005
The University of Alabama men’s tennis team lost on the road Friday to the Arkansas Razorbacks, 4-3.
With the score at 3-2, Arkansas (4-14, 2-7 SEC) clinched the match when 75th-ranked Rohan Gajjar defeated Luigi D’Agord at No. 2 singles, 6-3, 6-4.
“I’m embarrassed for Alabama and feel as though we’ve let some people down,” head coach Billy Pate said. “We set high expectations for ourselves and for this season and despite our youth there is no excuse. We have not exhibited the resolve that we need to have to be successful in this conference.”
Gajjar may have clinched the match for the Hogs, but the difference-maker came at the No. 4 singles position where Arkansas freshman Michael Jung, playing higher in the line-up than expected, defeated Alabama’s Javier Bes in straight sets. Jung moved up to No. 4 singles after an Arkansas player was removed from the line-up.
Three Tide athletes did, however, claim victory in Fayetteville on Friday. Sophomore Joseph Jung, the older brother of Arkansas’ Michael Jung, won his debut at No. 1 singles over Adrians Zguns, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 to earn his 18th win of the season. With four regular season matches remaining, Jung needs just two wins two become the third player in Alabama history to record back-to-back 20 win seasons. It would be the first time that Alabama has ever had 3 20-match winners in the same season.
Fellow freshman Billy Mertz and Sammy Struyf also recorded wins and gave the Tide a big boost Friday. Mertz, already a 20-match winner this year, won for the 22nd time and is now 22-13 this year. Mertz defeated Imraan Ismail at No. 5 singles, 6-4, 6-3. Struyf picked up his first career SEC victory by beating the Hogs’ Andrei Nicoara in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2.
Mertz’s and Struyf’s victories pulled Alabama (7-13, 0-9 SEC) to within one point of Arkansas and within two points of winning the match with two matches left to be decided. Jung would later come through for the Tide but not until Gajjar clinched it for Arkansas.
Alabama dug itself into a hole at the start again Friday by losing the doubles point. The Tide has struggled this year to recover after losing the doubles point and it proved true again Friday.
“We have a few problems that we need to address and some tough decisions to make if we are going to become the team we need to be,” Pate said. “But we will make whatever adjustments are necessary.”
At No. 3 doubles a bit of a sibling rivalry took place between brothers Joseph Jung and Michael Jung. The two played against each other for the first time with Michael Jung and his partner Nicoara coming out on top of Joseph Jung and RJ Murray.
Alabama will travel to LSU for a 1 p.m. start on Sunday before gearing up for three matches next week to end the regular season.
No. 75 Arkansas 4, No. 74 Alabama 3
1. Zguns/Gajjar (AR) def. D’Agord/Molnar (UA), 9-8(4)
2. Ismail/Roberts (AR) def. Bes/Struyf (UA), 8-4
3. M. Jung/Nicoara (AR) def. J. Jung/Murray (UA), 8-5
Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1
1. #86 Joseph Jung (UA) def. Adrians Zguns (AR), 2-6, 6-2, 6-3
2. #75 Rohan Gajjar (AR) def. Luigi D’Agord (UA), 6-3, 6-4
3. Matt Roberts (AR) def. Eric Molnar (UA), 6-2, 6-2
4. Michael Jung (AR) def. Javier Bes (UA), 6-4, 6-1
5. Billy Mertz (UA) def. Imraan Ismail (AR), 6-4, 6-3
6. Sammy Struyf (UA) def. Andrei Nicoara (AR), 6-2, 6-2
Order of Finish: 4, 6, 3, 5, 2*, 1
Arkansas (4-14, 2-7 SEC)
Alabama (7-13, 0-9 SEC)