Men's tennis falls to Vanderbilt in conference opener

Men's tennis falls to Vanderbilt in conference opener

Photo courtesy of Alabama athletics.

University of Alabama men's tennis team was reminded how good the SEC is on Friday night. 

Alabama opened up SEC play with a tough 4-3 loss over Vanderbilt. This marks the second loss of the season for the Crimson Tide. 

Coming into Friday's match, Alabama boasted a 14-1 record which was the best start in program history since 1976. It had also won 15 consecutive doubles points. Both streaks came to an end Friday against Vanderbilt. 

In doubles play, the dominant duo of Edson Ortiz and Mazen Osama did something they usually don't do; lose. 

“We couldn't get our energy going early on, we were really down,” Ortiz said on their doubles performance. “We were both feeling slow, and we missed shots we usually don't miss so we gave away a lot of free points.” 

In singles, it started the same way as doubles for Alabama, slow. It lost its first two matches pushing Vanderbilt’s lead to 3-0. The Commodores just needed one more win to clinch the victory. However, the Crimson Tide wasn't going down that easy. 

Feeding off sophomore Alexey Nesterov’s victory, Osama and Ortiz mounted a ferocious comeback in their matches. Before you knew it, Alabama had tied it up 3-3. 

“Mazen has grown up a lot this season, the team has helped him believe in himself and tonight was evidence of that,” coach George Husack said. “He was down very big, and he kept fighting and fighting.” 

The comeback fell short as Thibault Cancel fell to Daniel Valent giving Vanderbilt the 4-3 victory. Even though they fell behind big early, coach Husack liked how his squad responded. 

“It was a monumental effort from the boys, we were in a big hole but there was a small glimmer of light,” Husack said. “Our team kept digging and digging, I’m extremely proud of how they bounced back after a tough doubles match.” 

The Crimson Tide will be back on the courts Sunday afternoon when it faces Kentucky. 

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