BATON ROUGE, La.-The No. 16 Alabama men’s tennis team faced a tough opponent in Florida today at the WT Dub’ Robinson Tennis Center in Baton Rouge, La. The match came down to the final singles match, with the Tide falling 4-3 to the Gators.
“We knew going into the match, the doubles point would be critical, said Alabama head coach Billy Pate. “We just didn’t get it done there and that was the difference. It was disappointing because we’ve been good in doubles all year.”
Alabama had a tough time against Florida in the doubles. The Tide had a good showing on court two but Nos. 1 and 3 could not hold off the Gators. Florida’s top tandem of Jesse Levine and Greg Ouellette defeated the Tide’s Dan Buikema and Mathieu Thibaudeau, 8-2, while Alabama’s Javier Bes and Billy Mertz fell to Nestor Briceno and Geoffrey Barton, 8-6, to give Florida the doubles point.
Alabama’s No. 2 tandem of Saketh Myneni and Joseph Jung led Florida’s Jordan Dolberg and Billy Mulligan, 7-6, before their match was suspended.
“We played exceptionally well in singles and mounted a good charge to put us in position,” said Pate. “Florida is so good in the top three and we had to take on of those. Unfortunately, we were just short.”
Alabama’s Thibaudeau turned in a commanding performance against Florida’s Mulligan, taking his opponent in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1, to tie the match. The Tide’s Myneni took the second match to give Alabama a 2-1 lead. Myneni defeated Florida’s Barton, 6-2, 6-3, from the No. 6 slot.
Florida earned wins at Nos. 1 and 2 to gain a 3-2 lead against the Tide. The Tide’s Mertz fell to Florida’s top singles player, No. 3 Levine, 6-4, 6-4, at the No. 1 slot, while Jung lost to Ouellette, 6-3, 6-4, at the No. 2 slot. Bes responded with a win at the No. 5 spot, tying the match at 3-3, with a two-set win over Dolberg. Florida’s Briceno clinched the match for the Gators with a 6-4, 6-5 win over Alabama’s Sammy Struyf from the No. 2 position.
“We are going to work hard the next three weeks in preparation for the NCAA’s.”
Alabama finished the season 20-7, earning its first 20-win season since 1987. The Tide returns to the Capstone looking forward to the NCAA tournament.
#3 Florida 4, #6 Alabama 3
Baton Rouge, La.
WT Dub Robinson Tennis Center
Time: 2hrs. 46 min.
1. No. 3 Jesse Levine (UF) def. No. 76 Billy Mertz (UA) 6-4, 6-4
2. No. 16 Greg Ouellette (UF) def. No. 92 Joseph Jung (UA) 6-3, 6-4
3. Nestor Briceno (UF) def. Sammy Struyf (UA) 6-4, 6-5
4. Mathieu Thibaudeau (UA) def. Billy Mullligan (UF) 6-1, 6-1
5. Javier Bes (UA) def. Jordan Dolberg (UF) 6-4, 6-3
6. Saketh Myneni (UA) def. Geoffrey Barton (UF) 6-2, 6-3
1. No. 6 Jesse Levine/Greg Ouellette (UF) def. No. 26 Dan Buikema/Mat Thibaudeau (UA) 8-2
2. Saketh Myneni/Joseph Jung (UA) vs. Jordan Dolberg/Billy Mulligan (UF) 7-6 unf.
3. Nestor Briceno/Geoffrey Barton (UF) def. Billy Mertz/Javier Bes (UA) 8-6
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3*); Singles (4,5,1,2,5,3*)
Round 2 of SEC Tournament