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

Thompson-Doverspike duo may split this spring

The Alabama men’s tennis team has been turning heads nationally this fall with a strong showing in the Southern Intercollegiate Tournament. What has caught more eyes for the Crimson Tide is the lack of doubles play from juniors Michael Thompson and Ricky Doverspike.

The dynamic duo received a preseason ranking of No. 51 in the nation from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. Last year they went 6-4 together as the Tide’s No. 2 doubles team.

Doverspike said he thinks head coach Billy Pate is experimenting in the preseason, mixing and matching players to find the best combinations.

“It’s pretty insignificant,” Pate said. “The fall is like our preseason, and we’re just trying to find the most stable combinations we have.”

The lack of an appearance from the Thompson-Doverspike duo has been attributed to several factors outside of the time of year. Some say the duo could be separated for the team’s benefit.

“Thompson and Ian Chadwell have been playing some pretty good tennis together lately,” Pate said.

Doverspike said he has been enjoying his opportunity to play with other teammates.

“I’ve played with Vikram [Reedy] twice,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed it – he’s a very talented player – but for some reason we haven’t been playing well together. I love playing with Jarryd [Botha]. He’s just a big South African man. He hits the ball hard.”

Part of the big success Doverspike and Thompson experienced last year was due to how well their respective games matched each other for doubles play.

“[Thompson’s] just so quick,” Doverspike said. “He chases balls down, and I guess I hit a little harder than he does. We match up together real well; we put away each other’s shots easily.”

Although their ranking was a great milestone for the two, they still show the will to work hard and get better.

“[Being ranked No. 51] felt great,” Doverspike said. “But after all that hard work, we felt like we should’ve been ranked higher. It makes us want to go, keep working hard and get better. Hopefully we can reach the NCAAs this year.”

Even though the ranking had an effect on Doverspike and Thompson both, Pate won’t be taking that into consideration when he makes his final decision.

“I think a big part of them being ranked was that they played together all of last year,” he said. “We’re going to try out the different combinations we have in mind, and maybe they’ll do better and be ranked higher individually.”

Another thing to consider is the new talent that the Tide has coming into Tuscaloosa this spring all the way from Estonia.

“Daniil Proskura will be joining us this spring,” Pate said. “He’s a very talented player. We don’t know where we will place him, either. He could end up playing with Ricky or Michael. We just don’t know everything yet.”

Even though Thompson and Doverspike haven’t been playing together recently, and may not at all this season, Pate said he has no worries.

“At the end of the day, they’re still going to be roommates, and they’re still going to be best of friends whether they get to play together or not,” he said.

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