TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The 34th-ranked Alabama men's tennis team (7-5, 0-3 SEC) dropped a 6-1 decision to No. 15 Florida (10-3, 3-0 SEC) in the Crimson Tide's SEC home opener on Friday. Despite the loss, Alabama sophomore Jarryd Botha collected a big win in singles knocking off the nation's 32nd-ranked player in Gator sophomore Sekou Bangoura Jr.
"Again, it was another match where we had some chances," Alabama Head Coach Billy Pate said. "Overall, we fought hard. It is just another case where we must take advantage of key points against the top-ranked teams."
Florida won the doubles point by sweeping all three matches. On court two, Gator sophomore Bob van Overbeek and freshman Andrew Butz topped Alabama's No. 62 ranked team of juniors Vikram Reddy and Michael Thompson, 8-3. On court three, it was Florida junior Nassim Slilam and sophomore Billy Federhofer winning by the same score over Tide freshman Daniil Proskura and senior Trey Walston. The closest doubles match saw Florida senior Alexandre Lacroix and sophomore Sekou Bangoura Jr. hold off a late Alabama rally by junior Ricky Doverspike and Botha, 8-6.
The Gators would earn a pair of points in singles with wins on courts one and three before the Tide would claim its lone victory of the afternoon. First to finish was sixth-ranked Lacroix on court one, as he picked up a 6-2, 6-3 win over Doverspike. Following that, No. 125 Slilam was able to fight off a comeback run in the second by Reddy to take the match 6-2, 6-4 on court three. Botha earned a crucial late break over Bangoura Jr. in the second with the set tied 4-4 to take the match 6-3, 6-4 setting the overall score at 3-1.
The remaining three matches on court came down to the wire, but it would be Florida freshman Spencer Newman providing the clinching win with a 6-3, 7-5 decision over Thompson. Thompson clawed his way back into the match after falling behind 3-0 in the second before Newman eventually put it away. Next to finish was the matchup on court six, where Gator freshman Andrew Butz won in three sets, 3-6, 7-5, 6-1, over Tide freshman Carlos Taborga. The final match to finish lasted over two hours as Federhofer and Proskura battled to the end, but it would be Federhofer coming out on top posting a 7-5, 7-6(3) win to give Florida its sixth point of the match.
"At 3-1 down, we had some momentum and really had an opportunity to rally on courts four, five and six," Pate added. "Doubles continues to plague us, and I'm not happy where we are in that area. We'll continue working on that, and we plan to be better on Sunday."
Next up, Alabama will take on South Carolina on Sunday, March 13. First serve is slated for 1 p.m. CT.
1. Lacroix/Bangoura (UF) def. Doverspike/Botha (UA) 8-6
2. van Overbeek/Butz (UF) def. No. 62 Reddy/Thompson (UA) 8-3
3. Slilam/Federhofer (UF) def. Proskura/Walston (UA) 8-3
Order of finish: 2,3,1
1. No. 6 Alexandre Lacroix (UF) def. Ricky Doverspike (UA) 6-2, 6-3
2. Jarryd Botha (UA) def. No. 32 Sekou Bangoura Jr. (UF) 6-3, 6-4
3. No. 125 Nassim Slilam (UF) def. Vikram Reddy (UA) 6-2, 6-4
4. Billy Federhofer (UF) def. Daniil Proskura (UA) 7-5, 7-6(3)
5. Spencer Newman (UF) def. Michael Thompson (UA) 6-3, 7-5
6. Andrew Butz (UF) def. Carlos Taborga (UA) 3-6, 7-5, 6-1
Order of finish: 1,3,2,5*,6,4