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Arkansas Downs No.11 Crimson Tide in 4-3 Final

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Arkansas Downs No.11 Crimson Tide in 4-3 Final

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – There was once again a big crowd at the Dills Indoor Center to watch the No. 27 Arkansas Razorbacks play host to No. 11 Alabama Crimson Tide. The match showed a reversal of fortune from that on Friday against the Auburn Tigers. Arkansas’ match against the Crimson Tide proved to be a thrilling come from behind win at 4-3.

Head coach Robert Cox was extremely pleased with his team’s performance following Friday’s disaster.

“Another good SEC match and it seems it will always come down to the end with this team,” Cox said. “We’re a real gutty team and I’m real proud of them for fighting. We’re getting better and our spirits are up. It was all fight and ever giving up on ourselves. What can you say about upsetting the No. 11 team in the country? It came at a real good time following Friday’s heartbreaker against Auburn.

“The tables turned and we came out on top today. Alabama’s tough. I respect them a lot and they did a very good job. Luck was on our side and we fought very hard.”

Doubles saw the number two team of Aleksey Bubis and Matt Roberts put up a strong fight. They were tied up at three before Alabama went on a run that saw the Tide duo of Stephen Mitchell and Brad Friedman go up 7-3, 40-15 on the break. Bubis and Roberts would fight back to force a deuce. Roberts would hold serve following the third deuce to force another game. Unfortunately for the Razorbacks, some miscued returns allowed Alabama to win the first doubles match for Alabama, 8-4.

Number three doubles saw Talley Parker and Rohan Gajjar taking on Chris Gostek and William Boyles in a tight match. With an ad-in at six, Gajjar served and ‘Bama’s return was too long, putting the Hogs up 7-6. On the break, the Hogs led 40-love and looked to put their match away. It wouldn’t happen ads Alabama came back to force deuce and won the game to tie it up at seven each. With Parker on serve, the Razorbacks would go up 40-love again. This time was different as they were able to hold and go up 7-8. The Tide would blank the Hogs and force a tiebreaker as they held serve.

In the tiebreaker, Alabama would get up a quick 3-0, and finished off the Hogs in a final 7-2.

At number one, Nathan Price and Eduardo Pacheco played a deadlock match with Max Belski and Geoff Hiscox. Through twelve games, the score was tied at six. With Pacheco on the serve, and the Tide up 7-6, the Hogs would hold serve to stay deadlocked at seven. Alabama would again hold serve to go up 8-7. The Hogs would be looking to force a tiebreaker with Price on serve. The Tide would force deuce and Hiscox would return a volley out of bounds of an ad-in. Price would then record an ace to send the match to a tiebreaker.

Price dropped a winner over the net to give the Hogs an early 1-0 lead in the extra frame. The Hogs would garner another point on a botched Hiscox return. Up 3-1, the Razorbacks would regain serve. The Crimson Tide would win the next two point to tie the match back up at three. Tie at six, Pacheco hit a long return to give Alabama the lead. With Price on serve, Arkanasas would tie the match up at seven. Tied at seven, the match would be suspended.

In singles play the Hogs would have to play solid singles in order to win.

First off the courts would be Bubis at the two position where he would take on Mitchell. Mitchell seemed to have little trouble with the Arkansas senior as Bubis looked out of it at times during the match. Mitchell would win, 6-3, 6-4, to give Alabama a 2-0 lead.

Next off for the Razorbacks was Eduardo Pacheco who played Alabama’s Hiscox. Pacheco played solid tennis all match and as a result defeated Hiscox 6-4, 6-3 in just over an hour in match time at the four position. This gave Arkansas its first point of the match and pulled Arkansas closer at 2-1.

Freshman Gajjar struggled early in the third game of the number five match when he lost his serve to go down 1-3. He battled hard to even the match at 3-3 in the first set. From there Gajjar and his opponent Christian Broderson held serve a few times to even the match at 6-6. In the tiebreaker Broderson took an early 4-1 lead and never looked back as he won the first set 7-6(7-4) in a tiebreaker. In the second set Broderson took advantage of Gajjar’s state of mind by jumping on him 4-1 and eventually 5-1 before Gajjar won the seventh game to make it 5-2. For the eighth game Broderson served the match out winning 7-6(4)-6-2. Broderson’s win gave Alabama a 3-1 lead on the Hogs.

Adrians Zguns proved too much for Alabama’s Chris Gostek, but not until Gostek put up a fight to get a win for the Crimson Tide at number three. Zguns and Gostek traded breaks of serve in the match making the score even at 3-3. Then for a few games both players held their serves to keep it on serve at 6-5, Zguns. In the next game Gostek served to stay in the set and force a tiebreaker, but Zguns won the first two points of the game and after a long exchange of ground strokes won the first set 7-5. Gostek made Zguns work for the win in the second set by breaking Zguns serve in the fourth game to go up 3-1. However, Zguns managed to hit side to side forehands and claw back to even the second set at 3-3. In the pivotal seventh game of the second set Zguns once again broke Gostek’s serve to go up 4-3. From that point on, Zguns held serve and won the match 7-5, 6-4 to pull Arkansas within one again at 3-2 Alabama.

The match that would eventually even the dual match at 3-3 would take place on court six. The match saw Arkansas’ Matthew Roberts playing Alabama’s Michael Pallares. This match saw Alabama’s Pallares take an early and commanding lead on the freshman Matt Roberts. In just over thirty minutes Pallares had taken the first set against Roberts at 6-2, but the second set would tell a different story.

Roberts started to get in a groove early in the second set helping him to keep the match even and fight off several break point chances that Pallares had to put the match in his favor. The sixth game of the second set would change the momentum of the match to Roberts advantage. He would go on top of Pallares by breaking his serve and making the game score 4-2. Roberts would serve out the set at 5-3 to win the second set 6-3. Both players would play a third set to decide the winner of the match and who would get a very critical point in the match. Pallares could not withstand Roberts solid play in the third set. Roberts would break in the first game of the third set and then again in the third game to take a commanding 4-0 lead in the final set. At 4-0 Pallares would get on the board of the third set and pull within 4-1, but from then on the final two games would be all Roberts as he would once again break serve in the final match to win the match 2-6, 6-3, 6-1. Roberts win tied the Razorbacks with the Crimson Tide 3-3.

The final and decisive match would come at number one singles where Nathan Price took on Max Belski. Both players traded breaks a couple of times in the first set first Belski broke Price early to go on top in the first set 3-1, but Price would pull even 3-3 in the next two games. Belski would once again break Price’s serve to go on top 5-3, but Price would pull even again at 5-5. Both players would hold serve and force a tiebreaker to decide the first set winner. In the tiebreaker the match demonstrated just how close of a match the two were playing.

Not until 4-4 in the tiebreaker would Price get the point that would eventually help him win the first set 7-6(7-5). The second set would be close as well with both players holding serve until 4-3 in the second set. It was then that Price broke Belski’s serve to go up 5-3. With the crowd cheering on Price, he would go up in the final game 40-15. Then at 40-30 Price would put the match away with a winning volley down the line making the match score 7-6(7-5), 6-3. Arkansas came back from 3-1 down to defeat Alabama 4-3.

Alabama’s head coach Billy Pate gave a lot of credit to Arkansas for hanging close in the match and winning after losing a tough match to Auburn on Friday.

“We’re extremely disappointed,” Pate said. “It’s our first loss of the year. The key for us now is how we’re going to come out and get ready for Tennessee and Georgia next weekend. I give Arkansas all the credit. They played wonderful. We knew when we were up 3-1 that the match wasn’t over. The three matches on court were very close and could have gone either way. They hung around and played well on their home court and they deserved the victory.”

Arkansas next plays host to Michigan State on Tuesday, March 4, at 1pm at the Dills Indoor Tennis Center.

No. 27 Arkansas 4, No. 11 Alabama 3
Mar. 2, 2003 – Fayetteville
Singles
1. Nathan Price (AR) def. No. 63 Max Belski, 7-6(5), 6-3
2. Stephen Mitchell (UA) def. Aleksey Bubis, 6-3, 6-4
3. Adrians Zguns (AR) def. No. 119 Chris Gostek, 7-5, 6-4
4. Eduardo Pacheco (AR) def. Geoff Hiscox, 6-3, 6-4
5. Christian Broderson (UA) def. No. 102 Rohan Gajjar, 7-6(4), 6-2
6. Matt Roberts (AR) def. Michael Pallares, 2-6, 6-3, 6-1

Doubles
1. Price/Pacheco (AR) vs. Belski/Hiscox, susp.
2. Mitchell/Brad Friedman (UA) def. Bubis/Roberts, 8-4
3. Gostek/William Boyles (UA) def. Parker/Gajjar, 9-8(2)



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