Crimson Tide Slips to 17-5 Overall and 5-3 Against SEC Opponents
ATHENS, Ga. – The 15th-ranked Alabama men’s tennis team lost a hard-fought 4-2 match to No. 3 Georgia on Sunday at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. With the loss, the Crimson Tide slips to 17-5 overall and 5-3 against SEC foes, while the Bulldogs improve to 18-2 on the season and 7-1 versus league opponents.
“It was another close, but disappointing, result against a top five team,” said head coach Billy Pate. “Similar to Friday, we simply didn't play a very good doubles point. That's proving to be the difference in these matches. We're going to work this week on making adjustments and coming out better prepared in doubles next week. I'm proud of the way the guys fought. We must convert the opportunities we have against championship caliber teams. We'll learn from this and be ready to capitalize on that situation next time."
Georgia earned its first point of the match by winning the doubles point where the Bulldogs got early breaks on all three courts. The first pairing to finish was the No. 1 doubles match up as Georgia juniors Jamie Hunt and Nate Schnugg, ranked ninth nationally, picked up an 8-5 win over Alabama’s 41st-ranked senior duo of Dan Buikema and Mathieu Thibaudeau. After Schnugg and Hunt jumped out to a quick 4-1 lead, Buikema and Thibaudeau tightened the gap to set the score at 6-4. The Georgia pair would go on to win two of the final three games to capture the victory. On courts two and three it appeared the Bulldog tandems were easily in control as both pulled in front 4-0, but the Alabama pairs inched their way forward to get back in the matches. At No. 3, senior Andrew Felsenthal and freshman Ricky Doverspike would win three games in a row setting the score at 4-3. Georgia junior Christian Vitulli and sophomore Borja Malo won the next two games, however, taking back a three-game lead. Again, the Tide would counter with a pair of wins in the following games to bring the score to 7-5. Vitulli and Malo would hold serve in the final game to take the match 8-5 and give the doubles point to Georgia. At No. 2, the 60th-ranked pair of senior Billy Mertz and junior Saketh Myneni got off to a slow start but would eventually challenge late in the match. Bulldog sophomores Drake Bernstein and Javier Garrapiz were just one game away from the win with the score set a 7-3 before Mertz and Myneni took home the next four games sending the match into a tiebreaker. Things would remain close early on, but the Georgia duo would end up completing the doubles sweep with a score of 8-7(4).
Following the doubles break singles matches were moved indoors due to weather, therefore only four matches were able to be played at a time. No. 87 Thibaudeau would even the overall match score out at 1-1 with a dominant 6-3, 6-2 win at No. 2 over 66th-ranked Garrapiz. Next off the court was the No. 3 dual of No. 72 Hunt and Buikema. The Georgia junior would win 6-4, 6-4 putting the Bulldogs back on top 2-1. Again, the Tide would even the overall score up as No. 34 Myneni delivered a big win on court one over 10th-ranked Schnugg 7-5, 7-5. Both sets were played out similarly with neither player taking more than a one-game lead. Myneni would come through in the end when it counted winning a pair of games down the stretch to take both sets. Following suit, the Bulldogs would take the next match to come within one of the overall win as Josh Varela used his senior experience to outlast Tide freshman Michael Thompson 6-4, 6-3. The match would be decided over an hour later on court five as Bernstein delivered the clinching match for Georgia over Mertz with a 6-3, 6-4 win. Senior Michael Jung was up a set winning the first 7-6(6) over Vitulli before the match was called after Bernstein clinched.
Next up, Alabama plays its final home matches of the regular season when it hosts Florida and South Carolina on April 10 and April 12, respectively. Friday’s match between the Tide and the Gators will begin at 3:00 p.m. (CST), while Sunday’s contest with the Gamecocks is scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m. (CST).
1. No. 9 Hunt/Schnugg (UGA) def. No. 41 Buikema/Thibaudeau (UA) 8-5
2. Bernstein/Garrapiz (UGA) def. No. 60 Mertz/Myneni (UA) 8-7(4)
3. Malo/Vitulli (UGA) def. Doverspike/Felsenthal (UA) 8-5
Order of Finish: 1,3,2
1. No. 34 Saketh Myneni (UA) def. No. 10 Nate Schnugg (UGA) 7-5, 7-5
2. No. 87 Mathieu Thibaudeau (UA) def. No. 22 Javier Garrapiz (UGA) 6-3, 6-2
3. No. 72 Jamie Hunt (UGA) def. Dan Buikema (UA) 6-4, 6-4
4. Josh Varela (UGA) def. Michael Thompson (UA) 6-4, 6-3
5. Drake Bernstein (UGA) def. Billy Mertz (UA) 6-3, 6-4
6. Michael Jung (UA) vs. Christian Vitulli (UGA) 7-6(6), unf.
Order of Finish: 2,3,1,4,5*,6