Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Tide looks to beat Tennessee for second time

The 11-seeded Alabama Crimson Tide men’s tennis team will play the six-seeded University of Tennessee Thursday in Starkville, Miss., at the SEC Championships.

This is the second meeting of the year between the two teams, with the Crimson Tide winning the first match 6-1. However, head coach Billy Pate said the 6-1 score was not indicative of the match itself.

“It was hard to get that fourth point to win the match … the match very easily could have gone the other way,” Pate said. “If we look at that 6-1 score the wrong way, we won’t do as well.”

Pate said the team needs the same mindset they had the first match against Tennessee.

“[Tennessee is] are probably looking at that match as their worst loss, and they’re probably pretty ticked off, and if we come out flat-footed, we’re going to get our butts kicked,” Pate said.

Overall, the lineup for the match this Thursday will be relatively the same except for the No. 2 and No. 3 singles positions. Pate said he moved Daniil Proskura up to No. 2 singles from No. 3 and put Jarryd Botha at No. 3. Proskura is 18-12 in singles on the season with a win against the No. 4 University of Georgia Bulldogs.

“I’m feeling really confident in my backhand strokes, my serves, and I know that I am going to compete for every point,” Proskura said. “I am expecting to play my best tennis.”

The rock of the tennis team throughout the year has been senior captain Ricky Doverspike, and he said he is feeling very confident going into his last SEC tournament against Tennessee.

“They’re a really high ranked team, but I think we match up really well against them,” Doverspike said. “I think the match is going to come down to a couple key positions at the top, and not letting them get payback for us beating them so badly before.”

This match against Tennessee may not be just for bragging rights in the traditional rivalry between the two schools. According to Doverspike, a berth in the NCAA tournament may be on the line for his team as well.

“I would really like to win this first match so that we can secure a spot in the NCAA tournament,” he said. “We’re not just playing to do well in the SEC tournament; we’re playing so that we can do well enough to get to the NCAA.”

The importance of this upcoming match was reiterated by Pate as well. He said that the Crimson Tide is probably on the bubble of the NCAA tournament.

“We need to be successful in this match Thursday if we want a shot at the NCAA’s. This is one of the biggest opportunities we have to preserve their season,” Pate said.

With three seniors on the team (Doverspike, Vikram Reddy and Michael Thompson), Pate said that it would mean a lot for his team to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time in two seasons.

“They’re going to be highly motivated,” Pate said. “Now, it’s just a matter of playing well and giving the teams we play everything we’ve got.”

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