Alabama’s men’s tennis is off to their best start since 2003. The Crimson Tide defeated Penn State 4-0 Sunday afternoon pushing their record to a perfect 8-0.
Coach George Husack has been under the helm for Alabama since 2012, and he believes there’s something special to this year’s team.
“I think this team has shown more of a togetherness between all the guys on the team,” Husack said. “This all started in the fall with the six guys that were here, and it has certainly continued here in the spring.”
In their last three matches, the Crimson Tide have found tremendous success in double’s play. It continued on Sunday when the sophomore duo of Thibault Cancel and Alexey Nesterov took the first game 6-2.
Penn State bounced back and won the second game leaving it up to Edson Ortiz and Mazen Osama to secure a point for Alabama.
It seems whenever the Crimson Tide need an energy spark, sophomore Edson Ortiz is there to start it. Down 3-5, Ortiz and Osama mounted a ferocious comeback with Ortiz doing most of the energetic shouts and yells. The duo forced a sixth game, and would eventually outlast Penn State in a long 10-8 victory.
Coach Husak was seen waving a towel at Ortiz like a bullfighter waving his cape at a bull in celebration of the double’s victory. The team has nicknamed Ortiz “El Torro”.
“That was a great match for us especially since it was tough for us in the beginning, Mazen told me to stay focused and stick to the basics,” Ortiz said.
Speaking on the energy Ortiz brings to the court, Osama said “I definitely feed of his energy for sure, I’m normally calm when I’m out there but he brings out the beast in me.”
When it was time for single’s play, Alabama didn’t miss a beat. Already up 1-0 with the victory in double’s play the Crimson Tide just needed three more points to take home the victory. Freshman Patrick Kaukovalta who debuted on Friday night, and sophomores Alexey Nesterov and Zhe Zhou won all of their sets giving Alabama the sweep of Penn State.
The Crimson Tide are at Tulsa on Feb. 4 before returning to Tuscaloosa for a match against Pepperdine Feb. 9.
Source:: The Crimson White Sports