Tennis to Begin SEC Draw Against Alabama
BATON ROUGE – The LSU men’s tennis team will begin postseason play on Thursday when the 33rd-ranked Tigers face off with No. 51 Alabama in the first round of the 2011 SEC Men’s Tennis Tournament at 11 a.m. CDT at the Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville, Fla.
The Tigers (10-12, 5-6 SEC) are the No. 7 seed in the tournament, and are coming off a 6-1 win over Arkansas at home last Saturday. Alabama (10-11, 2-9 SEC) enters the match as the No. 10 seed after being swept 4-0 on the road by Auburn last weekend.
The match will be the second meeting of the season for the two squads, as LSU came away with a tough 5-2 victory over the Crimson Tide on April 3 in Baton Rouge.
“Every match from here on out is important, and the smallest details can be the difference between winning and losing,” LSU head coach Jeff Brown said. “We had a great match against Alabama a couple weeks ago, and they’re a solid team that’s very well coached. We know it’s going to be a quality match.”
Ricky Doverspike anchors the Crimson Tide at the top singles spot with an 8-10 dual record, while Jarryd Botha and Daniil Proskura lead the team with 11 singles victories. In doubles, Botha and Doverspike combine to make the 65th-ranked pair in the nation.
The 10th-ranked Tiger tandem of senior Sebastian Carlsson and junior Neal Skupski guide the Tigers into the match with a 16-5 record on the top doubles court, and are 8-2 in their last 10 matches. The duo has been a consistent point all year for the Tigers with a 7-3 mark in SEC play.
Senior Julien Gauthier leads the Tigers with 12 dual wins this spring, including a team-best seven conference victories. Skupski is the long ranked Tiger in the singles poll, checking in at No. 87.
The 2011 SEC Tournament will feature some of the best teams in the nation, as once again the SEC has proven itself to be one of the best and deepest conferences from top to bottom in the country. The SEC has 10 teams ranked in the Top 75, including six in the Top 20 with Tennessee (2), Georgia (5), Kentucky (11), Florida (17), Mississippi State (19) and Auburn (20). Vanderbilt (30), Ole Miss (31), LSU and Alabama round out the ranked SEC teams.
Last year, LSU knocked off then-31st-ranked Alabama in the first round of the SEC tournament before falling to then-second-ranked Tennessee in the next round. Historically, the Tigers have won the tournament twice since its inception in 1990, with LSU bringing home the trophy in back-to-back years in 1998 and 1999.
If the Tigers win on Thursday, they would advance to face Georgia at 11 a.m. on Friday in the second round.
Florida will provide live stats for all matches on its official athletics website www.GatorZone.com.
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.