April 23, 2009
AUBURN - The No. 13 Alabama men's tennis team picked up the first victory of the 2009 Southeastern Conference Men's Tennis Tournament Thursday afternoon, defeating 57th-ranked Vanderbilt, 4-0.
With the win, the Crimson Tide, the tournament No. 5 seed, will move on to face No. 10 Florida, the No. 4 overall tournament seed. The match will take place at 11 a.m. on the Orange Courts at the Auburn University/City of Auburn Yarbrough Tennis Center.
"We played a really tough match with Florida a few weeks ago and we know that we are capable of being successful against them," said Alabama head coach Billy Pate. "We need to be firing on all cylinders, taking the momentum from today and not put pressure on ourselves."
The 2009 SEC Men's Tennis Tournament is a four-day tournament hosted by Auburn University at the Yarbrough Tennis Center. One of the toughest tennis leagues in the country, the SEC features seven teams currently ranked in the top-25 in the nation by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
"I felt we played real good today. Vanderbilt, towards the end of the season, started to play better," said Pate. "We came out and played with a lot of energy and sense of urgency right off the bat. Winning doubles and wining the first six sets in singles was critical and we parlayed that into some momentum."
Alabama junior Saketh Myneni was pleased with his play and is looking forward to playing Florida in the second round.
"I feel I played good today, even with the heat, I think I played well," said Myneni. "We lost to Florida in our last meeting, 5-2, so we are looking for redemption in the rematch."
Alabama got rolling early by winning the doubles point. The 26th-ranked team of Mathieu Thibaudeau and Dan Buikema picked up the first win for Alabama with an 8-5 victory over VU's Adam Baker and Alex Zotov.
Alabama's Ricky Doverspike and Michael Thompson sealed the point with an 8-3 win over Bryant Salcedo and Alex DiValerio.
In singles play, Alabama's Thompson made quick work of Baker with a 6-1, 6-3 win, followed by a 6-3, 6-2 win for No. 22 Saketh Myneni over Vijay Paul. Michael Jung polished off the 4-0 victory for the Crimson Tide with a 6-1, 7-5 win over Vanderbilt's Jame Moye.
"We did not keep it close enough to keep it interesting," said Vanderbilt head coach Ian Duvenhage. "Clearly, we came into this match as underdogs and when that's the case, if you can keep it close, their nerves could get to them because they are supposed to beat us. When you lose the big points like we did, it's hard to beat a good team."
With the win, Alabama improves to 20-6 on the season while Vanderbilt falls to 5-17.