LSU tennis notebook: Successful March month surpassing last year’s overall win and graduate transfer success | Sport

Last season, LSU finished the men’s tennis program with a record of 12-14 and won only four of their 12 conferences matchups and lost seven of their last 10 regular season games. It was still considered a successful season, with the Tigers managing to reach the NCAA Tournament due to playing in the deepest conference in the nation and having a few solid non-conference victories, but there was clearly still work to be done.

LSU also lost a lot of leadership, like Rafael Wagner, Malik Bhatnagar and Joey Thomas were all finished. Although they had veterans who could fill these positions, their team lacked experience and would likely to repeat last season’s disappointment as a result.

They would choose to go the transfer route to fill these places, acquires candidate transfers in Vlad Lobak and Gabriel Diaz Freire from Minnesota and Alabama, respectively, before later getting junior Kent Hunter from Cal. The hope was that these players would have an immediate impact and help the Tigers win more games this season.

Concerns in the early season and their abolition

During the fall, the men’s tennis program would face controversy when head coach Chris Brandi was put on administrative leave, breaking the father-son duo that had built up the LSU men’s tennis program over the past few years. Brandi was expected to take over coaching if his father, Andy Brandi, were to retire.

Despite that debacle, not a single player chosen to transfer, leaving the guard without loss of potential. Still, it was hard to judge how much success this team would have, and it remained difficult even after the team’s first few games.

The Tigers wanted to repeat their early season success from last season as they would win six of their seven matches, but the difference here came in their first match against a top-25 opponent. Although they lost to South Carolina 4-1, further analysis showed that this match was much closer than it should have been.

First, LSU played without Ronnie Hohmann, who is currently among the top-25 in singles. It left the team without anyone who could: Daniel Rodrigues, who could fight for the national singles title after the season.

LSU men's tennis vs Purdue

LSU men’s tennis student Gabriel Diaz Freire goes online on Sunday, February 13, 2021 during LSU’s 6-1 victory over Purdue at LSU Tennis Complex on Gourrier Avenue in Baton Rouge, La.

Despite that, LSU had two unfinished matches that could have gone their way, with Kent Hunter holding a lead on Lane 2 and Benjamin Ambrosio down 0-1 with a lead in the second set. This team clearly had the potential to put one of the SEC heavyweights down, and with a rematch scheduled for just over a month away, their chance would come very soon.


Between their games against South Carolina, the Tigers would win five of their next seven. In the middle of During that period, they would defeat Tulane for the first time since 2019 and only drop matches against teams currently ranked in the top-40.

Even with Hohmann back in the ranks, it was still doubtful whether this team was capable of defeating South Carolina, which had jumped into the top-10 in the previous few weeks. LSU have not defeated a top-10 opponent since 2013, defeating No. 7 Ole Miss 4-3, and they had given only minor indications that they were skilled this season.

However, expectations in the world of college sports are always questionable, and the Tigers proved it at South Carolina’s home ground and played what was without a doubt the best match any Brandi-led LSU team has played through their tenure.

The Tigers would jump out to a 3-0 lead after acquiring the double point and two single points from straight-set wins by Hunter and Gabriel Diaz Freire. 3-0 leads are not quite as durable in tennis as in other sports, but the Tigers had gained most of the momentum and proven they had moved on.

South Carolina would eventually make an impressive comeback, but not without tremendous opposition from their opponents. Lobak and Joao Graca each took their opponents to a third set, and Boris Kozlov narrowly missed doing the same after losing a tiebreaker 8-6 to losing the second set.

Although it was a heartbreaking loss in the end, this match was a testament to the potential that this team has and how much they have improved since the start of the season. It also clearly gave the team some extra motivation and momentum, clearly in their next few matches.

12 days, five wins

After losing a close one to Mississippi State, the Tigers would win five in a row and equalize their overall victory from last season. Although the Tigers are no strangers to winning streaks, it was essential to this team that they defeated.

To start the streak, the Tigers would take down No. 20 Ole Miss 5-2, headlined by a completely dominant 6-2, 6-1 victory from Ronnie Hohmann over No. 21 Nikola Slavic. It seemed to inspire the remaining Tigers as all five of LSU’s points came in equal set wins.

Of their next four matchups, two would come up against ranked opponents as the team would defeat No. 41 Vanderbilt 4-3 before defeating No. 32 Tulsa 4-2 less than a week later. And after No. 4 in Tennessee broke the streak, LSU would sweep Alcorn State to surpass last season’s victory in total by five games back in the ordinary season.

Transfer effect and greater focus on singles

One of the aspects of this season that sets it apart from the last decade or two is the team’s dependence on doubles. LSU has been known to focus heavily on doubles and as a result has built a reputation for having it as their strong point, while singles were more of a random.

Considering that doubles matches only count for one point of a match, while singles matches account for the remaining six, it is understandable why this strategy has not yielded desirable results over the years.

The main reason LSU has had more singles success this season is because they now have the pieces and depth to be more consistent due to their extra experience. While Hohmann has won many impressive matches, he can only produce one point per game. fight in singles, and because he usually has to face their opponent’s best, he is bound to suffer defeat in any match.

From their game against Florida on Friday, transfers Kent Hunter and Gabriel Diaz Freire have collected for absurd 31 single points, while only handing over 5 to their opponents (Hunter is 14-2 and Freire is 17-3). Hunter also “drove” Auburn’s Tad Maclean, who was No. 45 in singles at the time, and took a set of Florida’s Sam Riffice, who finished No. 2 in the country last season and is currently No. 26.

Lobak has taken on the toughest role as the transfers, staffing Court 2 and filled in for Hohmann when he was recovering from appendicitis. As a result, his record may not be as impressive as the former, however after starting the double season 0-4, he has won nine of his last fourteen to work his way back to .500.

It is safe to say that the transfers have had a huge impact on the team this season, with many of the difficult victories in March probably not possible without them.


While this team may not match well with the conference’s true juggernauts like Florida, Georgia and Tennessee, whose depth knows no bounds, they have the ability to strike teams, they was not it could last season, obvious know they did just that.

This team met Ole Miss twice last season and lost by one combined score at 10-2 and never made it look close. Even though the Rebels have been fighting this season, I am still would not lower this fact as something less than impressive.

If you is it not convinced that it is a sign of improvement, they were also blown out of Tulsa and Tulane last season, hold the convincingly managed business towards this season. Tulane could have dived in qualalso with the transfer of Hamish Stewart, but Tulsa remain near the top-25 and is a worthy representative of the American Athletic Conference.

And just like No. 10, South Carolina barely scraped past against the Tigers, No. 9, Georgia and No. 12, Kentucky, barely scraped by the Commodores, where Vanderbilt (who currently sits at 14-8) is also undergoing massive improvements this season and even tops near the top-25 before LSU defeated them.

Need more? LSU’s next two opponents in Texas A&M and Kentucky are solid opponents to measure their progression from. Stay tuned this Friday to see them meet the Aggies at the LSU Tennis Complex.


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