Riccardo Roberto seals men’s tennis match over Vanderbilt


CW / Hannah Saad

Nick Robbins, Contributing Writer

It was a close matchup Sunday as Alabama men’s tennis beat No. 45 Vanderbilt, 4-2 in SEC play. Alabama jumped out to a 3-1 lead early on, but found itself in trouble after back-to-back singles losses.

Junior Riccardo Roberto lost his first set, 4-6. Following a 6-6 tie in the second, he battled to win a wild tiebreaker 11-9 on a rocket of a serve, forcing a third set. He would dominate the third set 6-1 to clinch the overall win for Alabama.

“I felt I competed really well at the end, took control in the third set and got into his head,” Roberto said.

Elsewhere in singles, junior Patrick Kaukovalta won his match 6-4, 7-6. He picked up his second-set victory after winning the tiebreak 7-4. Senior Alexey Nesterov also won his singles match 6-4, 6-2.

Senior Edson Ortiz and junior Jeremy Gschwendtner both lost their singles matches. Ortiz lost in a third set 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, and Gschwendtner lost his match 4-6, 3-6.

Senior Zhe Zhou lost his match 6-7, 7-5, 4-6, but while his match was going on Alabama had already clinched the win. The win was clinched midway through the third set of his match, but Zhou and his opponent played out the rest of the set.

“They faced adversity up and down the row here, but they handled it and played well,” coach George Husack said.

Alabama also won the doubles point behind strong performances from Roberto and Zhou, who paired up to beat their opponents 6-1. Ortiz and his partner, freshman Marcelo Sepulveda Garza, won their match 6-2. The final doubles match, featuring Nesterov and Kaukovalta, was called off with Vanderbilt leading 3-5 after Alabama clinched the doubles point.

“Vanderbilt is always a tough opponent; they played some really good tennis today against a really good team,” Husack said.