LSU men's tennis (11-11) has had its hands full as of late, getting dismantled by two teams in the top-10 in a row before facing off against a third one in No. 10 Georgia (12-5) on Sunday.
Despite having a relatively strong showing in singles, the team was not able to score a single point against the Bulldogs, losing 0-4 and completing this stretch against top-10 competition with a combined deficit of 1-17.
It first had to compete against a doubles squad that features multiple ranked duos, one of which is No. 6. Despite holding it together throughout the first half of the matches for the most part, things seemed to fall apart on Courts One and Five later on in the matches.
After going back and forth through the first six games, each LSU duo seemed to run out of steam and ultimately, both of them ended up losing 3-6. They were unable to replicate the success they had against Tennessee in doubles, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t cause trouble for the Bulldogs in singles.
The first half of singles had its ups and downs. The Tigers got off to a very slow start, and at one point, it seemed like Georgia was going to be leaving Baton Rouge very early.
But the Tigers had a brief resurgence. It seemed like they were going to have courts take the first set. That didn't happen, but the scores at the end of the first sets weren’t blowouts.
In particular, No. 54 Ronnie Hohmann was very close to evening the set at 5-5. With the score being 40-40 in the 10th game of the first set, Hohmann had No. 21 Trent Bryde in a bad position but whiffed on a spike, losing the set in the process.
That match would end up being one of the mandatory courts the Tigers would need to go their way if they wanted to upset Georgia, along with Courts Two-Four. Rafael Wagner and Boris Kozlov had leads in their second sets on Courts Two and Four, respectively, and Joao Graca stood a fighting chance on Court Three despite facing off against No. 25 Philip Henning.
Hohmann and Graca each went toe-to-toe against tough competition, earning the upper hand on multiple occasions and putting themselves in position to tie their second sets at 5-5. However, both players would falter, and Georgia’s two best singles players would walk away unscathed.
While they each suffered losses, it goes without saying that the LSU men’s tennis program has a strong developing core that will likely feature these two players if they continue to grow. Each player potentially has three more years at LSU. (Hohmann has an extra year due to the redshirt he received from the pandemic).
Hohmann has proved himself time and time again this season, and if he were to establish better consistency, he could be one of the best players in the country. And Graca has improved with every match this season, arguably playing his best tennis on Sunday and just missed out on taking a top-25 junior to a third set.
Focused on now, the Tigers have one more match this season before the SEC tournament, facing off against No. 22 Alabama on Thursday. A win there would have them finish the regular season just above .500, but with the schedule they’ve had and the younger players still trying to establish consistency, that’s not as bad as it looks.