The first match of the SEC Men’s Tennis Championship was a mismatch.
Alabama blanked Auburn 4-0 to open play Wednesday at the Alabama Tennis Stadium in a play-in match between the lowest-seeded teams, with the 13th-seeded Tigers eliminated in less than two hours.
The 12th-seeded Crimson Tide will face fifth-seeded Kentucky on Thursday at 4 p.m.
Alabama did not lose a set in its opener.
SEC Men’s Tennis Tournament
Where: Alabama Tennis Stadium
Thursday’s schedule: LSU vs. Vanderbilt, 10 a.m.; South Carolina vs. Ole Miss, noon; Alabama vs. Kentucky and Arkansas vs. Georgia, 4 p.m.
“We had the weekend off last week and really the guys were pretty run down,” UA coach George Husack said. “A lot of sniffles, a lot of coughs. We had several guys go to the doctor to get some booster shots.”
“I really wasn’t sure,” Husack said. “As it turned out, the guys were ready to go.”
Mazen Osama, ranked No. 18 nationally in singles, flustered and disposed of Auburn’s Matteo De Vincentis in a matchup of left-handers at No. 1 to close out UA’s fourth and final point.
The junior from Cairo, Egypt, won 6-3, 6-3.
“It was pretty straightforward what I had to do,” Osama said. “There wasn’t a lot of obstacle so I just had to stick to my game.
“We haven’t had the SEC Tournament (in Tuscaloosa) since 2006. It’s always great to have your home crowd and play on your own courts. We took advantage of that and we did pretty good.”
The Crimson Tide got dominant wins from Alexey Nesterov at No. 5, who won 6-0, 6-1 over Tad Maclean, and Patrick Kaukovalta at No. 2, who prevailed 6-2, 6-0 over Edward Nguyen.
“We had great energy throughout the whole match,” Nesterov said. “I think we were focused from the first point to the last point. We got our job done.”
Alabama won the doubles point, with Nesterov and Thibault Cancel winning their match and Patrick Kaukovalta and Zhe Zhou also winning.
Alabama didn’t tax itself in its opening match, its first win in SEC Tournament play since 2013. Husack believes a win over Kentucky will put the Crimson Tide in the NCAA Tournament.
“When I went in there (to the locker room), I just said great job,” the coach said. “They were fantastic.”
Reach Tommy Deas at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0224.