LSU Men Tennis vs. Memphis 3/11/2020

LSU senior men's tennis player Rafael Wagner and LSU junior men's tennis player Joey Thomas scans the court on Wedensday, Mar. 11 2020 during LSU's loss against the University of Memphis at the LSU Tennis Complex.

LSU tennis' strong doubles play carried over to Saturday, as the three duos that made it to the second round advanced to the semifinals, then two of those duos advanced even further.

The team is guaranteed a doubles champion, as the finals are headlined by the Tigers. 

The doubles duos that LSU has produced have always been talented, but it’s still impressive to see them win as much as they have this weekend. They’ve established themselves as a challenge in doubles, and they will only get better over the next few years.  

The day began with the second round, where three duos, Ronald Hohmann and Rafael Wagner, Boris Kozlov and Nick Watson and Malik Bhatnagar and Ben Koch each won their events, some more easily than others.  

Ronald Hohmann and Rafael Wagner skidded by in the second round, with a 9-8 victory that ended in tiebreakers. But their semifinals round went a lot smoother than that as they took down last year’s No. 43 duo, Florian Broska and Nicolas Ocana out of Mississippi State.  

The most interesting development of the day came when the other two duos, Kozlov/Watson and Bhatnagar/Koch, were placed in the same match in semifinals. This happens occasionally in tournaments, and it’s interesting because each duo knows the other duos strengths and weaknesses.  

A battle between teammates will always be interesting, whether it’s in a scrimmage in practice or playing for a spot in the championship.  

The match was a back-and-forth brawl for the first two-thirds of the match, but Kozlov and Watson, being the more experienced pair in terms of chemistry, defeated their teammates 8-4 to take them to the finals, where they will face another pair of their own.  

Overall, the team went 5-1 in doubles today, with the only lost being from the LSU versus LSU matchup. They performed extremely well this weekend, defeating multiple ranked opponents and introducing a completely new duo in Ben Koch and Malik Bhatnagar.  

Coach Chris Brandi was proud of the way his team performed in doubles but wished that their confidence and skill there could translate to singles.  

“LSU has a lot of tradition in doubles, and the guys have improved a lot in that area,” Brandi said. “We need to take that confidence into singles against these teams, who are among the best in the country.  

Their durable doubles play at least puts them on the map, but an improvement in singles would make this team dangerous come spring. The great thing about this early of an event is it will give the team time to investigate that and make improvements.  

The final day of the tournament begins at 9 a.m. on Sunday. The day will begin with doubles finals, where LSU’s Ronald Hohmann/Rafael Wagner and Boris Kozlov/Nick Watson will face off.

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