Men’s tennis loses nail-biter to Ole Miss

Nicholas Pursley, Contributing Writer

Alabama men’s tennis (9-14, 1-9 SEC) failed to break its losing streak on Friday, April 7, losing a close battle with the Ole Miss Rebels (15-6, 5-4 SEC) by a final score of 4-3. 

Despite opening doubles strong, the match came down to the final singles match where Ole Miss’ Isac Strömberg took down Alabama sophomore Zach Foster in three rounds. 

The loss marks the Tide’s seventh consecutively, albeit four of the losses were separated by just a single match. 

“Another nail-biter against the Rebels. Passionate crowd, momentum swings, excitement, opportunity and agony of defeat,” said head coach George Husack. 

Alabama’s road battle got off to an excellent start, with the sophomore duo of Enzo Aguiard and Foster recording the first victory of the day with a 6-3 win against the Rebel pair of Lukas Engelhardt and Strömberg. 

Both remaining doubles matches would head to tiebreakers, with the teams each taking one to help the Tide take a 1-0 lead in the overall series. Junior Joao Ferreira and freshman Matias Ponce De Leon secured their doubles match for Alabama, while Ole Miss scored an upset over the No. 78-ranked duo of Filip Planinsek and German Samofalov. 

The Rebels began singles competition with a bang, winning the opening two matches in straight sets. Samofalov then lost a close tiebreaker 7-5 to give Ole Miss a 3-1 lead halfway through singles. 

Both of the Tide’s ranked singles players — No. 76 Planinsek and No. 116 Aguiard — would win their matches in three sets. Planinsek’s match saw him defeat the Rebels’ highest ranked player in No. 60 Nikola Slavic. 

With the series at 3-3, it all came down to the aforementioned battle between Strömberg and Foster. Foster opened the game strong, winning the first set 6-3, but a 7-6 second set would force a tiebreaker that Strömberg would win 7-3. 

In the final set, Foster fell behind early, but rallied to even the set at five-all. Despite the effort, Strömberg would score the final two points to take the set and game, and seal the series for Ole Miss. 

When asked how his team could recover from its recent losing streak, Husack made it clear that it’s about the response to upcoming opportunities. 

“This young group has learned a lot about themselves, college tennis, the SEC, what it means to compete and how much they’ve improved these past two seasons,” Husack said. “We don’t have control over the outcome, but we do have control over our response to the next opportunity we have in front of us whether it’s following a win or a loss. We will get there. I’m fully confident of that and in this team.” 

Questions or comments? Email Blake Byler (Sports Editor) at [email protected]