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MTN: No. 13 Alabama Men's Tennis Edged by No. 10 Florida 4-3
   

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No. 13 Alabama Men’s Tennis Edged by No. 10 Florida 4-3

 

Crimson Tide now Awaits Placement in the 2009 NCAA Tournament

 

AUBURN, Ala. – The 13th-ranked Alabama men’s tennis team (20-7) suffered a heartbreaking 4-3 loss Friday in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament to No. 10 Florida (17-7) at the Yarbrough Tennis Center. The Crimson Tide jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the match, but the Gators were able to win the final four points en route to the victory.

 

“I’m proud of the effort and our team’s fight today,” said head coach Billy Pate. “We really had Florida on the ropes and certainly put ourselves in position to win the match. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t quite get that fourth point.”

 

The Tide captured the doubles point to gain an early advantage with wins on court two and three. First off was the freshman duo of Ricky Doverspike and Michael Thompson winning 8-4 over Gator sophomore Alex Lacroix and freshman Carlos Gonzalez De Cueto on court three. Florida grabbed an early break to take the 2-0 lead, but Doverspike and Thompson quickly got the match back on serve. The score stayed close until late when the Alabama tandem pulled away easily. Securing the doubles point would be senior Billy Mertz and junior Saketh Myneni at No. 2 rebounding from a first-round loss to Vanderbilt on Thursday. The Tide pair earned a break early and another midway through the set, but Gator sophomores Jeff Dadamo and Johnny Hamui came back on both occasions. Mertz and Myneni put together a pair of solid games to close out the match with an 8-6 victory.

 

In singles, it would be 22nd-ranked Myneni claiming the first point for Alabama with a win at the No. 1 position over 21st-ranked De Cueto. The Alabama netter won the final two games of the first set to pull away 6-4 and followed that up with a dominant run in the second. Myneni led 5-0 before giving up a single game to De Cueto. Myneni would take the match in the next game winning 6-1. Capturing the Tide’s third point of the afternoon was Buikema who also tallied a score of 6-4, 6-1 to take down Benneteau at No. 3. The match was nearly identical to that on court one except Benneteau was able to grab his lone point in the second at the beginning of the set.

 

The Gators kept their hopes alive with three consecutive wins beginning at the No. 5 spot with Hamui grabbing a 6-4, 6-3 decision over Mertz. Dadamo followed that up with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Alabama senior Michael Jung on court six. Next off was the matchup at No. 4 where Burkhardt picked up a 7-5, 6-1 win over Thompson to tie the dual match at 3-3.

 

All eyes turned to the contest on court two that featured a pair of ranked opponents in No. 32 Lacroix and No. 87 Thibaudeau. The first set went to Lacroix 6-4 and the second in favor of Thibaudeau 6-4 forcing a decisive third to determine the dual match winner. Both held serve until Lacroix was able to steal a break going up 4-2. Thibaudeau immediately broke back in the next game, but yet again, Lacroix would earn a break setting himself up to serve for the match. He did just that in the next game to take the third by a score of 6-3.

 

“Despite the outcome, our team is playing great tennis right now and peaking for the NCAA Tournament,” added Pate. “We’re hopeful of getting the chance to host an NCAA Regional at home.”

 

Alabama now awaits its placement in the NCAA Tournament which will be announced Tuesday, April 28.

 

 

RESULTS

Doubles

1. No. 26 Buikema/Thibaudeau (UA) vs. Benneteau/Burkhardt (UF) 7-5, unf.

2. Mertz/Myneni (UA) def. Dadamo/Hamui (UF) 8-6

3. Doverspike/Thompson (UA) def. Lacroix/De Cueto (UF) 8-4

Order of Finish: 3,2

 

Singles

1. No. 22 Saketh Myneni (UA) def. No. 21 Carlos De Cueto (UF) 6-4, 6-1

2. No. 32 Alex Lacroix (UF) def. No. 87 Mathieu Thibaudeau (UA) 6-4, 4-6, 6-3

3. Dan Buikema (UA) def. Antoine Benneteau (UF) 6-4, 6-1

4. Joseph Burkhardt (UF) def. Michael Thompson (UA) 7-5, 6-1

5. Johnny Hamui (UF) def. Billy Mertz (UA) 6-4, 6-3

6. Jeff Dadamo (UF) def. Michael Jung (UA) 7-5, 6-3

Order of Finish: 1,3,5,6,4,2*

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