Men’s and Women’s Tennis finish with strong showings at ITA Championships

Ivan Pelley, Contributing Writer

Alabama tennis — both the men’s team and the women’s teams — competed in their respective ITA Southern Regional Championships last weekend. While both teams experienced success, the star of the show was sophomore Enzo Aguiard, who won the singles draw championship on the last day of competition. 

The University of Alabama hosted the men’s ITA Southern Regional Championship in Tuscaloosa, which began Thursday, Oct. 13.  

From day one, the Crimson Tide had an excellent showing. Junior Joao Ferreira competed in the qualifying round of 64 in straight sets against Lillian Dubois of The University of New Orleans, 6-4, 6-4. The second day saw the first doubles play for Alabama, with freshman Roan Jones joining Joao Ferreira against Taras Ignatiuk and Olimjon Nabiev of The University of Southern Mississippi in the doubles round of 64. Ferreira and Jones took the victory, 9-7. Enzo Aguiard played alongside freshman Matias Ponce De Leon against Carles Anton and Nicolas Simkin of Troy University, winning 8-2. 

Saturday saw the beginning of the third day of the tournament, with both singles and doubles play. Roan Jones came from down one set, 4-6, against Alabama State’s David Jeanne Grandinot to win in three sets, 6-2, 6-4. Sophomore German Samofalov played in a tough match against The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Michal Lusovsky, finally winning 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. Ponce De Leon won his first collegiate singles match against Luka Petrovic of Tulane University, winning 6-3, 6-3.  

That same day saw the round of 32 in singles begin, with Jones growing his winning streak to eight matches with a victory against Mississippi State’s Ewen Lumsden 6-3, 7-5. Aguiard, who had a bye in the first round, defeated Mississippi State’s Benito Sanchez Martinez in mirroring 6-3, 6-3 sets. Sophomore Filip Planinsek also had a bye the first round and came from behind to defeat New Orlean’s Karim Al-Amin 6(5)-7, 7-5, 6-0. Samofalov fell to The University of South Alabama’s Sebastien Collard 6-3, 1-6, 1-6. All three of Alabama’s duo squads won their matches 8-6, Aguiard and Ponce De Leon against Beneyto Sanchez and Agustin Cuellar of Jacksonville State University, Planinsek and Samofalov against Patrick Lazo and Seth Richey of Mississippi State, and Ferreira and Jones defeating Ignatiuk and Nabiev of Southern Miss.  

The fourth day saw the end of double’s play for Alabama. Jones and Ferreira lost their match to Auburn’s Jan Galka and Alejandro Moreno 8-4, and Aguiard and Ponce De Leon fell 8-4 to Mississippi State’s Nemanja Malesevic and Carles Hernandez. Samofalov and Planinsek won their first doubles match of the day 8-6 before falling to Auburn’s Finn Murgett and Tyler Stice 8-4. The singles round of 16 saw heavy success in singles, with Aguiard upsetting No. 14 Ronnie Hohmann of LSU 6-3, 5-7, 6-1. Jones beat Fynn Kuenkler of Tulane 6-2, 6-2. Planinsek beat Mississippi State’s Gregor Ramskogler 6-2, 6-1. The day continued with Planinsek falling in the quarterfinals to Carles Hernandez of Mississippi State 6-4, 3-6, 5-7. Aguiard and Jones saw so much success that in their semifinal’s match they faced each other, with Aguiard defeating his teammate 6-3, 6-1.  

Tuesday, Oct. 18, saw the championship singles match won by Aguiard, defeating Mississippi State’s Nemanja Malesevic  6-4, 6-1. Consequently, Aguiard will be traveling to the ITA National Fall Championships in San Diego in November. At the same time, his teammates will be hosting the SEC-BIG 12 Challenge in Tuscaloosa, while some team members will be competing in the Country Club of Birmingham Collegiate Invite. 

While the men’s team competed in Tuscaloosa, Alabama women’s tennis competed in the women’s ITA Southern Regional Championship in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Their tournament began with sophomore Ansley Cheshire taking home a singles victory against Mississippi State’s Maddie Bemisderfer 4-6, 6-4, 11-9. She then fell to Samford University’s Samantha Nanere 6-4, 6-3. Freshman Rebeka Kern beat Northwestern State University’s Renske Ubachs 6-2, 2-6, 10-5. Kern then fell to Caraline Scheufler of South Alabama 2-6, 6-2, 13-11.  

The singles main draw saw 3 wins for Alabama on the 2nd day of competition: sophomore Loudmilla Bencheikh against Tulane’s Jiayun Zhu 6-3, 7-6 (5), sophomore Petra Sedlackova 6-1, 6-0 against McNeese State University’s Emma-Lou Pommiers, and junior Anna Parkhomenko 7-6 (2), 1-6, 6-3. The day continued with doubles play — Parkhomenko and Sedlackova defeated Tulane’s Zhu and Adelaide Lavery 8-3, while Kern and junior Sydney Orefice beat Louisiana Tech’s Valentina Vasquez and Olga Bienzobas 8-6. Crimson Tide sisters Ola and Kasia Pitak also moved on due to Mississippi State’s Bemisderfer and Alessia Tagliente retiring because of an injury. Kern and Orefice then fell to Auburn players 8-4. 

Day three of competition was an excellent showing for Alabama. Bencheikh defeated Troy’s Kristina Kukaras 6-2, 6-2 in the round of 32. She then beat Kelsey Mize of Ole Miss 6-2, 7-6(5) in the round of 16. Sedlackova also took 2 wins of the main draw, first defeating Clara Tardivel of Southern Miss 6-2, 6-0, and then Jacksonville State’s Serafima Shastova 7-6(8), 1-6, 7-6(5.) In consolation play, Klara Milicevic defeated Brooke Theis of Tulane 4-6, 6-3, 10-3. In doubles play, the Pitak sisters defeated South Alabama’s Luminita Tutunaru and Elysia Pool 8-5 and Parkhomenko and Sedlackova beat Jacksonville State’s Irene Artigas Taberner and Polina Ramenskaja 8-1. 

Day four saw the end of Alabama’s double run; Parkhomenko and Sedlackova fell in the semifinals to LSU’s Maggie Cubitt and Mia Rabinowitz 6-2, 1-6, 6-4, while the Pitaks were defeated by Tulane’s Lahari Yelamanchili and Charlotte Russell 8-3 in the quarterfinals. In singles play, Bencheikh lost in the quarterfinals to Anastasiya Komar of LSU 6-4, 6(3)-7, 5-7. Sedlackova, however, would advance to the semifinals after defeating LSU’s Nikita Vishwase 6-1, 6-4. Eventually, though, on the fifth day of the tournament, Sedlackova would fall in the semifinals in a tiebreaker to Lillian Gabrielsen of Ole Miss, 3-6, 7-6, 3-6.  

Next up, Alabama’s women’s tennis will be hosting the Roberta Alison Fall Classic in Tuscaloosa, Oct. 28-29.

Questions or comments? Email Austin Hannon (Sports Editor) at [email protected]