Spring briefing: Alabama ends week 1

The Alabama Crimson Tide completed the first week of Spring Practice 2011. Alabama coach Nick Saban talks spring drills in the video below. Some selected comments from Saban regarding the week of practice follows below. Also, an update on men’s and women’s tennis at Alabama concludes this update.

VIDEO: Nick Saban talks after Practice 3-26

Some comments from Saban about spring practice so far this year:
“I think practice has gone a little better each day,” Saban said. “I see improvements in different areas. I thought we threw and caught the ball better today than we have been. That has been a little bit of an issue. There has been a little bit of wind, but I was really pleased with the way the receivers have made some progress and improved.

“One of the things we really need to focus on since we have had pads on for two days is playing with physical toughness up front. That is something that we need to improve on defensively up front. Being good tacklers and playing good fundamental technique is probably a couple of areas that we need to improve on.”

“Tyler Love got a little bit of a concussion and they held him out a day until they could test him a little bit more,” Saban said. “We are hopeful that that is not serious. Brandon Moore has been suspended for a violation of team rules and policies and that is indefinite.”

In other Alabama news:

Alabama Women’s Tennis Takes Down Vanderbilt, 4-3
Crimson Tide earns its first win over Commodores since 1994 (courtesy of UA Media Relations)

The 54th-ranked Alabama women’s tennis team outlasted No. 14 Vanderbilt 4-3 in a match that lasted over four hours at the Currey Tennis Center. The Crimson Tide took the doubles point handily, but was tested in singles. Junior Courtney McLane provided the clinching win for Alabama at the No. 3 position. The win for the Tide (9-5, 2-3 SEC) was its first over the Commodores (9-6, 3-3 SEC) since March 2, 1994.

“Today was a total team effort,” Alabama Head Coach Jenny Mainz said. “It was a breakthrough match for the Crimson Tide. This team has been working tirelessly to make this happen. We came back after spring break ready to work. We believed we would get through it, and that we needed to just keep chipping away. This is a fantastic win for our team.”

Alabama dominated doubles play giving up a combined four games across each of the three courts. First to finish was the matchup on court one where the Tide’s 12th-ranked team of McLane and sophomore Alexa Guarachi took down 63rd-ranked senior Rachael Dillon and freshman Alex Leatu, 8-2. From there, Alabama sophomore Antonia Foehse and freshman Mary Anne Macfarlane, the No. 58 team in the nation, clinched the point with an 8-1 win over Commodore freshman Lauren Mira and senior Keilly Ulery. Junior Taylor Lindsey and freshman Alex Clay would complete the sweep of doubles posting an 8-1 decision over juniors Jackie Wu and Chelsea Preeg.

“Our doubles was absolutely phenomenal today,” Mainz added. “To give up just four points to a top-15 team speaks volumes. It certainly gave us a boost heading into singles.”

Vanderbilt struck first in singles as Wu earned a 6-1, 6-3 win over No. 104 Clay on court four. The Tide then got a pair of straight-set wins on courts two and five with 93rd-ranked Guarachi taking down 69th-ranked Preeg, 6-3, 6-4, and Foehse knocking off No. 97 Dillon, 6-4, 6-4. The Commodores tacked on their second point of the match with a win on court one as 91st-ranked Leatu came back to beat 32nd-ranked Macfarlane 3-6, 6-1, 6-2. Vanderbilt would even the score at 3-3 with a win on court six as Ulery outlasted Lindsey 5-7, 6-4, 6-4. With all eyes on court three, McLane delivered after dropping her first set as she topped Mira, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 to give the Tide the win.

“Alexa made a huge difference today,” Mainz said. “She had a tough match and really gave us a boost. Antonia also played a great match, and for Courtney to be in the position to clinch the match was fantastic. I want to emphasize, however, that this was a total team effort. This will give us a lot of confidence as we go on to finish the rest of this season.”

Alabama returns home next weekend for a pair of SEC matchups as it is scheduled to host Arkansas and LSU. Friday’s match against the Razorbacks will begin at 3 p.m., while Sunday’s contest versus the Tigers will start at 1 p.m. CT.

RESULTS
Doubles
1. No. 12 Guarachi/McLane (UA) def. No. 63 Dillon/Leatu (VU) 8-2
2. Clay/Lindsey (UA) def. Preeg/Wu (VU) 8-1
3. No. 58 Foehse/Macfarlane (UA) def. Mira/Ulery (VU) 8-1
Order of Finish: 1,3,2

Singles
1. No. 91 Alex Leatu (VU) def. No. 32 Mary Anne Macfarlane (UA) 3-6, 6-1, 6-2
2. No. 93 Alexa Guarachi (UA) def. No. 69 Chelsea Preeg (VU) 6-3, 6-4
3. No. 101 Courtney McLane (UA) def. Lauren Mira (VU) 5-7, 6-4, 6-4
4. Jackie Wu (VU) def. No. 104 Alex Clay (UA) 6-1, 6-3
5. Antonia Foehse (UA) def. No. 97 Rachael Dillon (VU) 6-4, 6-4
6. Keilly Ulery (VU) def. Taylor Lindsey (UA) 5-7, 6-4, 6-4
Order of Finish: 4,2,5,1,6,3*

Alabama Men’s Tennis Topped by Vanderbilt, 4-3 (courtesy of UA Media Relations)
Crimson Tide wins doubles point but falls short in singles

The 42nd-ranked Alabama men’s tennis team (8-7, 1-5 SEC) dropped a 4-3 decision to No. 28 Vanderbilt (10-7, 1-5 SEC) on Sunday at the University of Alabama Tennis Stadium. The Crimson Tide was able to get the early advantage after winning the doubles point, but the Commodores would go on to take four of the six singles matches for the team victory.

“Today was an agonizing loss,” Alabama Head Coach Billy Pate said. “There is no other way to phrase it. I thought we prepared well all week. We did a good job in doubles, but we just did not carry that momentum into singles and put ourselves in tough positions.”

In one of its closest doubles points of the season, Alabama came up big down the stretch to post 8-6 wins on courts one and three to secure the early edge in the match. At No. 1 doubles, junior Ricky Doverspike and sophomore Jarryd Botha knocked off the Commodores’ 49th-ranked pair of senior Adam Baker and sophomore Ryan Lipman moments before senior Trey Walston and freshman Daniil Proskura finished off senior Bryant Salcedo and freshman Blake Bazarnik on court three. The Tide completed the doubles sweep as juniors Vikram Reddy and Michael Thompson dominated senior Alex Zotov and junior Charlie Jones in the tiebreaker to win 8-7(2).

Vanderbilt earned its first point of the afternoon with a win on court two singles as Baker topped 111th-ranked Botha 6-2, 6-1. Sophomore Ian Chadwell put Alabama back in front with a win on court six as he took down Zotov 6-0, 4-6, 6-1. The Commodores evened the score at 2-2 as 28th-ranked Lipman posted a 7-6(5), 6-3 win over Doverspike. Doverspike led during the early parts of the opening set before Lipman took the frame in the tiebreaker. Vanderbilt went on to win the next two singles matches, both in three sets, for the team victory. On court five. Bazarnik tallied a 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 win over Thompson to bring the Commodores to within one point of securing the match. Jones provided the final point for Vanderbilt with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 win over Proskura on court three.

The rally on court four would continue despite the team victory being decided. Reddy, down 3-0 in the third set, would battle back to even the frame and eventually win in another tiebreaker to take the match 2-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(4).

Next up, the Tide will travel to take on Arkansas and LSU on Friday, April 1, and Sunday, April 3, respectively. Both matches are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. CT.

“We needed a complete team effort today to be successful,” Pate added. “We’ll get back to work and prepare for our tough road trip ahead at Arkansas and LSU.”

RESULTS
Doubles
1. Doverspike/Botha (UA) def. No. 49 Baker/Lipman (VU) 8-6
2. Reddy/Thompson (UA) def. Jones/Zotov (VU) 8-7(2)
3. Proskura/Walston (UA) def. Salcedo/Bazarnik (VU) 8-6
Order of Finish: 1,3,2

Singles
1. No. 28 Ryan Lipman (VU) def. Ricky Doverspike (UA) 7-6(5), 6-3
2. Adam Baker (VU) def. No. 111 Jarryd Botha (UA) 6-2, 6-1
3. Charlie Jones (VU) def. No. 115 Daniil Proskura (UA) 3-6, 6-1, 6-3
4. Vikram Reddy (UA) def. Bryant Salcedo (VU) 2-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(4)
5. Blake Bazarnik (VU) def. Michael Thompson (UA) 6-2, 1-6, 6-3
6. Ian Chadwell (UA) def. Alex Zotov (VU) 6-0, 4-6, 6-1
Order of Finish: 2,6,1,5,3*,4