2-3-17 Men's Tennis

LSU freshman Rafael Wagner reflects on his play during the Tigers' 3-4 loss to Santa Clara at the LSU Tennis Complex on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017.

No. 38 LSU (9-2) hosted No. 39 Vanderbilt (6-4) for its first conference showdown of the season. The Tigers had success to start to match and clinched it early, finishing with a 4-3 victory.

After concluding January with two tough losses, the Tigers have come back in a big way, dropping zero matches in February.

Coach Chris Brandi said the team had momentum going into the match, but felt like the best is still ahead of them.

“We’re playing better each match, getting more confident and are having better weeks of practice, but we still haven’t felt like we’re anywhere near the level we’d like to be at,” Brandi said.

LSU had a great start to the match in doubles. The duo of Rafael Wagner and Ronnie Hohmann notched its ninth-straight victory and the pair of Boris Kozlov and Nick Watson took its set 6-3.

Singles had its ups and downs. The Commodores tied the match, with Tomas Descarrega suffering a devastating loss, but Kozlov would grab the lead back for the Tigers with a two-set victory (6-3 and 6-4). The rest of the matches would be close.

After dominating his first set (6-1), Hohmann would have a frustrating second, losing 2-6. But with his teammates hyping him up, he would reignite the fire he had in the first set, taking the last set 6-1.

“Having the teammates’ [support] is crucial. It gets a lot of energy going,” Hohmann said. “I think they really helped me through the [sets], especially the third.”

Wagner would close out his set as well. Though he dropped the first set, he dominated the rest of the match, taking the second and third sets easily (6-2 and 6-3). He clinched the match for LSU, something he was happy about.

“We’ve had some tough matches this season, some matches we didn’t succeed [in],” Wagner said. “But I’m glad that this one worked out and that I was the one who was able to clinch it.”

Joey Thomas and Malik Bhatnagar couldn’t close out their matches however, and Brandi said there’s still a lot the team needs to improve on.

“Three guys had good days and the other three guys probably felt differently,” Brandi said. “That’s what’s difficult and where we’re at right now. We need to get all six singles guys playing well. We were lucky to get out alive, but we’re very happy with the win today.”

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