Jan. 20, 2012
Site: Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Roberta Alison Baumgardner Tennis Facility)
Score: Northwestern 4, No. 51 Alabama 3
Records: NU (3-0), Alabama (0-1)
Next NU Event: Sunday, January 22 -- vs. William & Mary (Evanston, Ill.), 9:30 a.m.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- For the second straight season, the Northwestern Wildcats upset the Alabama Crimson Tide in an early-season nonconference clash Friday. The 'Cats defeated No. 51 Alabama in Tuscaloosa, 4-3 behind another all-around team effort at the Roberta Alison Baumgardner Tennis Facility.
For Northwestern, the win marked the sixth in nine matchups with the Crimson Tide all-time. Last season, the Wildcats beat then-No. 18 Alabama at the Combe Tennis Center almost a year ago to the day on January 22, 2010 by the same 4-3 score.
"Our guys came in tonight to a hostile environment and they refused to be intimidated," said Northwestern head coach Arvid Swan. "We won a lot of tough battles against an extremely talented Alabama team. Any time you can win away from home, you can gain a lot of confidence moving forward. We can build on this as we play on this season."
The Wildcats earned a 1-0 lead after claiming the doubles point in exciting fashion. Northwestern's Raleigh Smith (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) and Alex Pasareanu (Bluffton, S.C./Heritage Academy) came up short at No. 2 doubles against Alabama's Ricky Doverspike and Michael Thompson, 8-3. The other two matches, however, went the way of the Wildcats. At the No. 1 spot, Josh Graves (Milwaukee, Wis./Nicolet) and Spencer Wolf (Coral Springs, Fla./Laurel Springs) teamed up to win their third match of the season for the Wildcats as they downed the Crimson Tide's Jarryd Botha and David Vieyra, 8-4.
The third doubles match was arguably the mot thrilling of the afternoon. Sidarth Balaji
(Fairfax, Va./Fairfax) and Tobias Reitz
(Reinbeck, Germany/Sachsenwaldschule Reinbeck) went back and forth with the 21st-ranked doubles team in the country according the ITA, Alabama's Carlos Tobarga and Daniil Proskura. In the end, it was the 'Cats who won 9-8 to clinch the doubles point and establish a 1-0 lead in the dual.
Freshman Nikhil Jayashankar (Saratoga, Calif./Saratoga) notched the second point of the evening for the Wildcats as he finished the first singles match of the day at the No. 6 position. Jayashankar knocked off Vieyra in straight sets, 6-3, 6-0.
Botha got the Crimson Tide on the scoreboard when when he toppled Balaji at the No. 1 singles position, 7-6, 6-3. Moments later, however, Smith brought the NU advantage back to two when he defeated No. 96 Vikram Reddy at No. 4 in straight sets by identical 6-3 scores.
Thompson, ranked No. 122, won Alabama's second point Friday when he defeated Pasareanu, 6-4, 6-4. That cut the deficit to one, 3-2.
Graves, the reigning Big Ten Co-Player of the Week, delivered the knockout blow for Northwestern. After winning the first set against Ricky Doverspike, 6-3, the senior found himself in a dogfight at the No. 2 singles spot. In the end, it was Graves that won the second set, 7-6, to clinch the point and the match for the 'Cats.
At the No. 3 singles spot, Wolf, ranked No. 97 by the ITA, dropped the first set against No. 91 Proskura, 1-6. The Floridian bounced right back, however, to claim victory in the second set, 6-1. Proskura, however, won the back-and-forth final set, 7-5, and earned a third point for the Tide.
"We look forward to coming home on Sunday and putting forth our best effort once again against another talented team in William & Mary," said Swan.
The Wildcats will be back at the Combe Tennis Center on Sunday, January 22 when they host the William and Mary Tribe at 9:30 a.m.
1. Jarryd Botha (UA) def. Sidarth Balaji (NU) - 7-6 (7-3), 6-3
2. Josh Graves (NU) def. Ricky Doverspike (UA) - 6-3, 7-6 (7-3)
3. No. 91 Daniil Proskura (UA) def. No. 97 Spencer Wolf (NU) (6-1, 1-6, 7-5)
4. Raleigh Smith (NU) def. No. 96 Vikram Reddy (UA) - 6-3, 6-3
5. No. 122 Michael Thompson (UA) def. Alex Pasareanu (NU) - 6-4, 6-4
6. Nikhil Jayashankar (NU) def. David Vieyra (UA) - 6-3, 6-0
Order of finish: 6, 1, 4, 5, 2*, 3
1. Spencer Wolf/Josh Graves (NU) def. Jarryd Botha/David Vieyra (UA) - 8-4
2. Ricky Doverspike/Michael Thompson (UA) def. Raleigh Smith/Alex Pasareanu (NU) - 8-3
3. Sidarth Balaji/Tobias Reitz (NU) def. No. 21 Daniil Proskura/Carlos Taborga (UA) - 9-8 (8-6)
Order of finish: 2, 1, 3*
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