Huskies Turn Lights Out On Alabama, 4-2
Feb. 17, 2008
SEATTLE - In a long, grinding match that stretched from Saturday night into Sunday morning, the Washington men's tennis team (5-3) took out 10th-seeded Alabama in consolation play in the ITA National Team Indoor Championships at the Nordstrom Tennis Center. Junior Ryo Sekiguchi clinched the match with a comeback win at No. 6 singles.
The match ran so long the lights gave out for a brief moment. At the stroke of midnight, the Nordstrom was plunged into darkness as automatic timers were triggered. But light eventually shone on the Huskies once again, as Sekiguchi completed a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 comeback win at 12:40 a.m. Sekiguchi's opponent, Javier Bes, was so worn down in the end that he attempted an underhand first serve facing match point. It missed and Sekiguchi won on the conventional second serve.
Derek Drabble's comeback at No. 4 singles was the most dramatic, even if it was not the deciding match. Drabble lost the first set, 6-4, to Michael Jung, but turned the tables in set two, winning 6-3. From there Jung appeared on his way to victory, as he led 5-2. However Drabble reached down and got the service break back, leveling the set and eventually taking it to a third-set tiebreak. From there, Drabble took a 3-0 lead, then went up 6-1, and won the match on his second match point, giving UW a 3-2 edge and setting up Sekiguchi, who improved to 7-1 in dual play, the best mark on the team.
"All the matches have been high drama and we are fortunate this one went our way, but we worked hard," said head coach Matt Anger. "Our guys feel good and they deserve to. One of the things that's neat is this is the first win over a Top-10 team for this young team, so hopefully it's some we will build on."
The first Husky singles victory came from Patrik Fischer at the No. 1 spot. Fischer played his trademark high-percentage tennis to overwhelm Saketh Myneni, 6-4, 6-1. Alabama scored wins at No. 2 singles and No. 3 singles, where senior Andy Kuharszky took the second set against Sammy Struyf, 6-1, after dropping the first, but Struyf owned the third, 6-2.
For the second straight night, freshman Tobi Obenaus' match had to be abandoned in a third set. Obenaus and Alabama's Daniel Buikema were level at 4-4 in the third when Sekiguchi clinched, resulting in a simple "DNF" on the score sheet for "did not finish."
The Huskies regretted a doubles point loss to No. 2 Georgia on Friday in which they served for the point at No. 1 doubles. The would not miss their chance again Saturday night. Despite losing the first match, 8-6 at No. 1, Washington was leading on the two outer courts. Fischer and Nedunchezhiyan continue to impress as a tandem, defeating Myneni and Jung, 8-3 in the two spot. Then freshman combo Obenaus and Martin Kildahl came through in a long deuce game to win 8-6 and score the crucial doubles point.
The Huskies will now get a good night's sleep and return at 5:30 p.m. Sunday to play Illinois, the No. 11 seed. The match will take place at the Nordstrom.
In the main draw earlier in the day, Sunday's semifinals were set as No. 1 Virginia will face No. 5 Mississippi at 11 a.m., and No. 2 Georgia will battle No. 3 Ohio State at 2:30 p.m. Both matches will be at the Nordstrom Tennis Center. Georgia is still on track to win its third-consecutive National Team Indoor tourney.
Washington Men's Tennis
(15) Washington 4, (10) Alabama 2