BATON ROUGE—The No. 39 LSU men’s tennis team defeated No. 18 Alabama Thursday afternoon at the LSU Tennis Complex.
The Tigers finish the regular season with an 12-11 overall record and 4-8 in SEC play.
“It was a good day for the Tigers, for sure,” said co-head coach Chris Brandi, and it was just that for the Tennis Tigers on Thursday. This was one of LSU’s most complete matches all season, dominating in both doubles and singles. After coming close multiple times this season, the Tigers were finally able to knock off a top-20 ranked SEC team as four freshmen contributed to the victory. “When you start four freshmen, it takes them a while to learn, and they finally learned their lesson today. A lot of them came up big. They did a great job and singles and doubles and the guys that weren’t on the court did a great job,” said Chris Brandi.
Doubles started off with the No. 39 duo of Ronald Hohmann and Rafael Wagner taking down Alabama’s No. 21 duo, 6-4. Newly ranked duo, No. 83 Joao Graca and Joey Thomas, defeated Alabama’s Alexey Nesterov and Edson Ortiz, 6-4, to clinch the doubles point for LSU.
The Tiger freshmen stepped up in a big way Thursday, with three of the four in the singles lineup walking away with victories. No. 48 Ronald Hohmann had his most dominant performance of the season, defeating No. 47 Edson Ortiz, 6-3, 6-0. Hohmann was tied with Ortiz at three in the first set, then proceeded to win straight games included a second-set sweep. This win sets Hohmann up to have a great chance to compete in the NCAA Tournament, which Hohmann and Brandi knew going into the match. “Ronnie [Hohmann] knew that he somewhat needed this win. To his credit, he was a superstar today, and he played a great doubles match too. We’re really proud of him. He seems to be figuring it out at the right time.” Following the court one win, freshman Ben Koch stepped up and put the Tigers up, 3-0. Koch rolled through Vincent Rettke, winning the match 6-3, 6-1. Alabama put one on the board after No. 69 Zhe Zhou was victorious over freshman Joao Graca. Redshirt sophomore Boris Kozlov flipped the script in his match and provided the clinching victory for LSU. After dropping the first set, 2-6, Kozlov won the 12 of the next 13 games, including a third-set sweep for a 2-6, 6-1, 6-0 victory and a 4-1 win for the Tigers. The always humble Kozlov talked about how it was a full team performance to defeat Alabama. “They [Alabama] are one of the best in the nation, so the fact that we were able to get a win against them today at home means a lot. It was clear that every single guy out there today wanted that victory. I think we all played for each other and played with a lot of heart. Thankfully, we’re able to get that win today.”
The Tigers will now set their sights for the SEC Tournament in Fayetteville, AR, kicking off on Tuesday, April 20. LSU won’t know their opponent until Saturday night.
#39 LSU 4, #18 Alabama 1
1. #48 Ronald Hohmann (LSU) def. #47 Edson Ortiz (UA) 6-3, 6-0
2. Rafael Wagner (LSU) vs. #83 Patrick Kaukovalta (UA) 5-7, 6-4, unfinished
3. #69 Zhe Zhou (UA) def. Joao Graca (LSU) 6-3, 6-4
4. Boris Kozlov (LSU) def. Riccardo Roberto (UA) 2-6, 6-1, 6-0
5. Benjamin Ambrosio (LSU) vs. Jeremy Gschwendtner (UA) 6-4, 3-6, 0-1, unfinished
6. Ben Koch (LSU) def. Vincent Rettke (UA) 6-3, 6-1
Alabama 14-9; National ranking #18
LSU 12-11; National ranking #39
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (1,6,3,4)