By (Ben Boynton)

Sophomore Korey Lovett, standing at 6-foot-4, plays tennis utilizing every bit of his tall, lanky frame. Powerful serves are common when Lovett plays, but his doubles partner freshman Mazen Osama could not be more different. Osama stands just 5-foot-10 and his game is predicated on finesse. It is more likely to see a skillful, precise play from Osama than it is to see a thunderous serve.

Lovett and Osama are very different players, but coach George Husack believes that what makes the two players such an effective doubles combination.

“I think that they’re both strong players and I think they complement each other well,” Husack said. “With Korey having a big serve and Mazen having great volleys, and then Mazen having returns that set up things for Korey to get points.”

With Osama being a freshman, the pair had no experience playing together coming into the year. It took awhile for them to get to where they are today, complimenting each other’s play style.

“At first, we were a little all over the place,” Lovett said. “We were still doing pretty well because he is a really talented player, but as the season has progressed we’ve learned each other and where we’re going to be more, so I feel like the last few matches we’ve been a lot better.”

Lovett and Osama are officially 2-2 at Alabama’s No. 1 doubles spot this season. The other four matches they’ve played together ended unfinished, but the pair was in the lead. The duo has not lost the doubles point since Florida State on Jan. 29.

It’s not just Lovett and Osama meshing well. Alabama has earned the doubles point in eight of its 10 matches, only losing it against then-No 29. Florida State and the season opening match against then-No. 16 Virginia Tech.

A lot of Alabama’s practice time is spent working on doubles play, and Husack feels that has helped translate into the team’s success.

“We work a lot on it every day, and the team has gelled together well,” Husack said. “We’ve done pretty well in that, and the energy and effort has been there all season.”

Playing a strong doubles point is key for the singles matches that follow. Osama said a more team-oriented nature during doubles play helps set the mood for the rest of the match.

“You’re out there with your teammate, working together and trying to motivate each other as much as you can,” Osama said. “The doubles point plays a big role in how you play singles, so you have to do your best.”

Alabama looks to continue its doubles’ success when it plays in the Blue Gray National Tennis Classic starting on Friday, Feb. 26. It will start the tournament playing against No. 9 Oklahoma State at 12:30 p.m.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports