TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – No. 20 Arkansas came close toposting a weekend sweep of the state of Alabama, but the Razorbacks could not knock off No. 45 Alabama, falling 4-3 Sunday afternoon at the University of Alabama Tennis Complex in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
The loss drops the Hogs, which defeated Auburn Friday, to 14-8 this season and 5-5 in the SEC. Arkansas remains third in the SEC West and sixth overall in the league standings.
The Razorbacks road record falls to 3-2 this season. Alabama evened the all-time series with Arkansas, 9-9, and avenged a loss the Crimson Tide suffered a year ago in Fayetteville.
Alabama (9-11, 3-7) won a close doubles point, and jumped out to a 1-0 lead. Arkansas’ team of Matt Roberts and Rohan Gajjar notched a win at No. 1, 8-5, over Joseph Jung and Mathieu Thibaudeau, but Alabama’s Billy Mertz and Javier Bes bested the Hogs’ 44th-ranked duo of Blake Strode and Adrians Zguns at No. 2, 8-6, to give the Crimson Tide the doubles victory.
It marks the 10th time in 22 matches the Hogs have dropped the doubles point. Arkansas is now 2-8 in those matches, and 12-0 when winning the doubles point
Roberts got the Razorbacks on the board at No. 3 singles, tying the match 1-1 with a, 6-3, 6-0, victory over Thibaudeau. Roberts, ranked 57th nationally, completed a perfect weekend in both singles and doubles, and the Little Rock, Ark. native improved to 24-8 this season, 15-5 in dual matches and 7-3 in the SEC.
Gajjar quickly followed Roberts with a, 6-2, 6-0, win over Bes at No. 2 to give the Hogs a 2-1 lead. Gajjar has now won four of his past five outings, and the 93rd-ranked Mumbai, India product is 18-7 this season, 13-4 in duals and 6-3 in conference play.
The Crimson Tide evened the match at 2-2 when Dan Buikema bettered Arkansas’ Austin King, 7-6, 6-4, at No. 6. King falls to 10-5 overall, 3-2 in duals and 3-2 in the SEC.
Mertz gave Alabama the lead again at 3-2 when he defeated the Razorbacks’ Colin Mascall at No. 5, 7-6, 6-4. Mascall is now 11-8 this season and 4-5 in SEC action.
Strode posted a win for Arkansas at No. 4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, over Sammy Struyf. Strode, ranked 124th, has won five consecutive matches and eight of his last 10. The St. Louis, Mo. native is 22-5 this season, 14-3 in duals and 7-3 in the SEC.
The decisive match would come from court one, where Zguns and Jung’s third-set began after every other match had already been concluded. Zguns, ranked 22nd, fell behind in the third 4-0 and could not recover, dropping to the 114th-ranked Jung, 3-6, 7-6, 6-2. Zguns is now 21-8 this season, 13-6 in duals and 5-4 in the SEC, and still stands at 99 career victories.
Arkansas will step out of conference play Wednesday when it travels to Norman, Okla. to take on Oklahoma. The regional contest between the Hogs and Sooners will begin at 5 p.m.
#45 Alabama 4, #20 Arkansas 3
April 9, 2006
1. Matt Roberts/Rohan Gajjar (AR) def. Joseph Jung/Mathieu Thibaudeau (ALA), 8-5
2. Billy Mertz/Javier Bes (ALA) def. #44 Blake Strode/Adrians Zguns (AR), 8-6
3. Dan Buikema/Andrew Felsenthal (ALA) def. Austin King/Colin Mascall (AR), 8-3
Order of Finish: 1, 3, 2*
1. #114 Joseph Jung (ALA) def. #22 Adrians Zguns, 3-6, 7-6, 6-2
2. #93 Rohan Gajjar (AR) vs. Javier Bes (ALA), 6-0, 6-2
3. #57 Matt Roberts (AR) def. Mathieu Thibaudeau (ALA), 6-3, 6-0
4. #124 Blake Strode (AR) def. Sammy Struyf (ALA), 6-4, 3-6, 6-1
5. Billy Mertz (ALA) def. Colin Mascall (AR), 7-6, 6-4
6. Dan Buikema (ALA) def. Austin King (AR), 7-6, 6-4
Order of Finish: 3, 2, 6, 5, 4, 1