Men's Tennis Outlasts Alabama, 5-2

by Sidney Kleinpeter
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Men's Tennis Outlasts Alabama, 5-2

BATON ROUGE – The LSU men’s tennis team picked up its second SEC victory of the weekend in thrilling fashion as the 34th-ranked Tigers notched a 5-2 victory over No. 43 Alabama on Sunday afternoon at W.T. “Dub” Robinson Stadium.

The Tigers jumped out to an early 1-0 lead by picking up the crucial doubles point. The 10th-ranked LSU pair of senior Sebastian Carlsson and junior Neal Skupski were first off the courts as they continued their Court 1 dominance with an 8-5 win over the No. 76 Crimson Tide pair of Ricky Doverspike and Jarryd Botha. The Tiger tandem is now 14-4 at the top spots this season and has victories over seven nationally ranked opponents.

However the doubles point was still up in the air as Alabama’s Daniil Proskura and Trey Walston jumped out 7-3 lead over LSU’s Julien Gauthier and Olivier Borsos on Court 3, and the Tiger duo of sophomores Stefan Szacinski and Roger Anderson were deadlocked at 4-4 with the Crimson Tide’s Michael Thompson and Vikram Reddy on Court 2.

Borsos and Gauthier rattled off three-straight games to cut their deficit to 7-6, but the Bama pair pulled away to take the match 8-6 and tie the doubles courts up at one each. The crucial early point rested on Court 2, where Szacinski and Anderson outlasted Thompson and Reddy for the 8-6 victory and seal the doubles point for the Tigers.

Alabama turned things around in singles as the Crimson Tide won the first set on four of the six courts, but the Tigers wouldn’t be swayed as Skupski made quick work of Proskura 6-1, 6-2 on Court 2 to increases LSU’s lead to 2-0.

The Crimson Tide cut the lead to 2-1 when Szacinski fell to Boyta 6-4, 6-2 at the No. 2 spot, and then evened the score up at 2-2 when Carlsson dropped his match to Reddy 6-4, 6-3 on Court 4.

Gauthier retaliated for the Tigers on Court 6. The Repentigny, Canada, native dropped his first set 7-5 to Alabama’s Carlos Toborga, but fought back to take the next two sets 6-4, 6-1 to win the match and put LSU back on top 3-2 overall.

With the match on the line all eyes focused to Court 1 where Borsos and Doverspike where in a third set standoff. Borsos had claimed the first set 6-4 but dropped the second set 6-3, and with the back-and-forth third set tied at 6-6 the match was sent to a tiebreak. With the match on the line, Borsos came through in the clutch by winning the tiebreak 10-8 and sealing the 4-2 victory for LSU.

Junior Mark Bowtell‘s match against Thompson was in the third set at the time, but Thompson retired to put the final score at 5-2.

“This was a great example of not playing your best but still finding a way to win,” LSU head coach Jeff Brown said.  “We preach to this team all the time about attitude and winning under adverse situations. Alabama was hungry and we got off to bad starts in singles and doubles, but I feel fortunate we had some learning moments today and were still able to win in the end.”

With the win the Tigers improve to 9-10 overall and 4-4 in SEC play, while Alabama falls to 9-8 on the year and 2-6 in conference competition.

LSU entered the match tied for third in the SEC Western Division, but with both Ole Miss and Mississippi State falling in their respective matches on Sunday LSU is now in a three way tie for second with Auburn (4-4) and the Rebels (4-4), and only trail the Bulldogs (5-3) by one match in the division.

Six of LSU’s 10 losses have come at the hands of current Top 15 teams, including four current Top 5 teams in Virginia (1), Ohio State (3), Tennessee (4) and Texas A&M (5).

After playing eight of their last nine matches at home, the Tigers will hit the road next weekend for a pair of SEC matches against No. 30 Vanderbilt and No. 14 Kentucky. LSU will face off with the Commodores at 2 p.m. CDT on Friday and the match against the Wildcats will begin at Noon on Sunday.

For up-to-date information and behind the scenes access to the Tigers, fans can follow the LSU men’s team on Twitter @lsutennis and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lsutennis.

#34 LSU 5, #43 Alabama 2

Singles competition
1. Olivier Borsos (LSU) def. Ricky Doverspike (UA) 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (10-8)
2. #81 Neal Skupski (LSU) def. Daniil Proskura (UA) 6-1, 6-2
3. Jarryd Botha (UA) def. Stefan Szacinski (LSU) 6-4, 6-2
4. Vikram Reddy (UA) def. #124 Sebastian Carlsson (LSU) 6-4, 6-4
5. Mark Bowtell (LSU) def. Michael Thompson (UA) 2-6, 6-3, 5-6, retired
6. Julien Gauthier (LSU) def. Carlos Taborga (UA) 5-7, 6-4, 6-1

Doubles competition
1. #10 Sebastian Carlsson/Neal Skupski (LSU) def. #76 Ricky Doverspike/Jarryd Botha (UA) 8-5
2. Stefan Szacinski/Roger Anderson (LSU) def. Michael Thompson/Vikram Reddy (UA) 8-6
3. Daniil Proskura/Trey Walston (UA) def. Julien Gauthier/Olivier Borsos (LSU) 8-6

Order of finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (2,3,4,6,1,5)