ORLANDO, Fla. – History was made as senior Mazen Osama and sophomore Patrick Kaukovalta advanced to the Alabama men’s tennis program’s first-ever national championship after cruising past No. 32 Giovanni Oradini and Niclaus Braun of Mississippi State, 6-2, 7-5, in the semifinal round of the NCAA Doubles Championships on Friday night at the USTA National Campus.
The No. 11 pair in the country will battle No. 2 Maxim Cressy and Keegan Smith of UCLA on Saturday at 4 p.m. CT for the NCAA Doubles National Championship. The championship appearance is the first in program history in any NCAA Championship, including singles, doubles and the team tournament.
“It was a super performance by Mazen (Osama) and Patrick (Kaukovalta) tonight,” head coach George Husack said. “They did very well calling their serves and holding much like a catcher calling pitches for strikes. They became more aggressive with their returns late in the second and capitalized on opportunities. They are on a good path and determined to finish strong against a tough UCLA team tomorrow. It should be an entertaining match.”
The Crimson Tide set the tone early after breaking the Bulldogs’ serve to take the 3-1 advantage in the opening set. Osama and Kaukovalta closed out the crucial first set by winning 6-2.
In the second, each side held serve making it 5-5 before the Tide broke through. Alabama broke serve to go up 6-5 and was just one game away from a ticket to the national championship. In the final point, Kaukovalta served, after a short MSU return, Osama slammed the ball to where no Bulldog could return to send UA to the final round of the tournament.
Osama and Kaukovalta have won all of their matches in the NCAA Doubles Championships in straight sets.
On the UCLA side, Cressy/Smith defeated No. 6 Stodder/Touliatos of Tennessee, 6-2, 6-1, in the semifinal round to advance to the championship.
Saturday’s match will be live streamed on the USTA’s website. Follow in-match updates on the Alabama Men’s Tennis Twitter page.