Feb. 15, 2014
HOUSTON --- Forced to forfeit No. 6 singles due to an injury as well as a suspension, the fourth-seeded Georgia men's tennis team started in a hole and could never recover in a 4-2 loss to No. 12 Florida in consolation action at the ITA National Indoor Championships Saturday in Houston.
The Bulldogs narrowly dropped the doubles point, then went down 2-0 after the walkover at No. 6. Despite quick wins at Nos. 1 and 2 singles to tie the match 2-2, the Gators were able to hang onto the momentum and pull out the two additional matches they needed to seal the victory in the Southeastern Conference rivalry match-up.
Today's loss drops Georgia to 3-4 on the season with one match remaining in the national tournament. The Bulldogs will take on either No. 9 seed Mississippi State or No. 16 Notre Dame in consolation action tomorrow at 7 p.m. ET.
"I'm really proud of our guys - they came out today committed to winning the match," said head coach Manuel Diaz. "We executed very well in doubles, and came within a hair of winning the doubles point. I think there was maybe some newness at No. 1 doubles, but they got after it. After losing the doubles point, I thought we competed like warriors on every court, and I am proud of the effort. We came up a little short, but I was glad we could make a statement about how we want our guys to compete. Florida deserves all the credit - they got the job done. I am looking forward to see how we grow from this match, and I know we will. We had a lot of guys gain a lot of confidence out there today."
Georgia and Florida traded wins at Nos. 1 and 2 doubles, with 24th-ranked Stephane Piro and Michael Alford defeating the brand new doubles team of Hernus Pieters and Nick Wood, 6-1, at No. 1, and the team of Nathan Pasha and Garrett Brasseaux answering with a 6-4 win over Gordon Watson and Maxx Lipman at No. 2. That left just No. 3 on court, and the teams had battled on serve all match until the Gators were able to break for 5-4. They then held to take it 6-4 in the deciding game, giving Florida the early 1-0 lead.
Georgia then found itself quickly down 2-0 with Brasseaux unable to compete in singles due to a lingering injury and Ben Wagland beginning his suspension for conduct after yesterday's match, meaning the Bulldogs had no player at line six.
But it quickly moved level as both Pasha and Austin Smith earned quick straight-set decisions to bring it to 2-2. Pasha won first, defeating Diego Hidalgo, 6-1, 6-2, at No. 2, and Smith followed just seconds later with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Piro at No. 1. It was the team-leading 21st singles win of the season for both players.
Georgia then fell behind 3-2 as Eric Diaz suffered a close loss in his second-set tiebreaker to lose 6-0, 6-5(5) to Lipman at No. 5. That left just court Nos. 3 and 4 on court and the Bulldogs needing both matches to win. Pieters was about to enter a tiebreaker for his second set after winning the first at No. 4, when Watson pulled out a tight 6-4, 6-5(5) victory over Wood at No. 3 to seal the 4-2 win for the Gators.
Following tomorrow's final match vs. either Mississippi State or Notre Dame, the Bulldogs will return to Athens in anticipation of the outdoor opener, set for next Thurs., Feb. 27 at 2:30 p.m. against in-state rival Georgia Tech.
#12 Florida 4, #4 Georgia 2
1. #14 Austin Smith (UGA) def. #55 Stephane Piro (FLORIDA) 6-3, 6-2
2. #20 Nathan Pasha (UGA) def. Diego Hidalgo (FLORIDA) 6-1, 6-2
3. Gordon Watson (FLORIDA) def. #109 Nick Wood (UGA) 6-4, 6-5 (7-5)
4. #59 Hernus Pieters (UGA) vs. Florent Diep (FLORIDA) 6-4, 5-5, unfinished
5. Maxx Lipman (FLORIDA) def. Eric Diaz (UGA) 6-0, 6-5 (7-5)
6. Michael Alford (FLORIDA) def. No player (UGA), by walkover
1. #24 Stephane Piro/Michael Alford (FLORIDA) def. Hernus Pieters/Nick Wood (UGA) 6-1
2. Nathan Pasha/Garrett Brasseaux (UGA) def. Gordon Watson/Maxx Lipman (FLORIDA) 6-4
3. Diego Hidalgo/Florent Diep (FLORIDA) def. Austin Smith/Eric Diaz (UGA) 6-4
Florida 4-3; National ranking #12
Georgia 3-4; National ranking #4
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (6,2,1,5,3)
ITA National Men's Team Indoor Championship