Hernus Pieters furnished the clincher at No. 5.
March 2, 2014
KNOXVILLE, Tenn.-----The Georgia men’s tennis team opened SEC play with a 4-0 win at 11th-ranked Tennessee Sunday afternoon at UT’s Barksdale Stadium.
Georgia (5-5, 1-0 SEC) fell behind early on all three doubles courts, but stormed back to win tiebreakers at Nos. 2 and 3 to go ahead 1-0. The Bulldogs then earned singles wins at Nos. 1, 5 and 6 to beat the Vols (10-4, 0-1 SEC) for the fifth straight time.
“I was really impressed with our composure in doubles,” said UGA head coach Manuel Diaz. “We were down a break at two and three, but I felt really good about our focus and our fight. Those two factors helped us stay in it and turn it around. I’m really proud of them.”
At No. 1, the nation’s No. 2 ranked team of Mikelis Libietis and Hunter Reese defeated the Bulldogs’ No. 14 team of Hernus Pieters and Ben Wagland, 8-5. Georgia, however, answered at No. 3 as Eric Diaz and Austin Smith edged Jarryd Chaplin and Bartosz Sawicki, 8-7(3), then Garrett Brasseaux and Nathan Pasha outlasted Andrew Dromsky and Markus Kerner at No. 2, 8-7(5), to give UGA a 1-0 lead.
No. 16 Smith put Georgia in front 2-0 with a 6-4, 6-2 win over No. 32 Libietis at No. 1 singles, then Knoxville native Nick Wood notched the Bulldogs’ third point with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Sawicki at No. 6. Pieters registered his second match clincher of the season as he topped Kerner, 7-6,(6) 6-1 at No 5.
Matches at Nos. 2, 3 and 4 were suspended when Georgia clinched the win.
“We had phenomenal play by Austin Smith at No. 1,” Manuel Diaz said. “In the last match against Tech, Nathan Pasha really overwhelmed his opponent at No. 1, and it was the same with Austin today. He served exceptionally well and was aggressive and able to put pressure on his opponent. He did a terrific job. Nick came in with a solid performance, and Hernus – after the first set where it was a tossup – just broke down his opponent and clinched the match for us.”
Smith is now tied with Pasha for the team lead with 23 wins, and the Cumming, Ga., native recorded his 10th victory of the season against a ranked opponent.
The Bulldogs will return to action next weekend with home matches against Mississippi State Friday at 2:30 p.m., and Ole Miss Sunday at 1 p.m.
#35 Georgia 4, #11 Tennessee 0
Doubles (Order of finish: 1,3,2)
1. #2 Mikelis Libietis/Hunter Reese (UT) d. #14 Hernus Pieters/Ben Wagland (UGA), 8-5
2. Garrett Brasseaux/Nathan Pasha (UGA), d. Andrew Dromsky/Markus Kerner (UT), 8-7(5)
3. Austin Smith/Eric Diaz (UGA) d. Jarryd Chaplin/Bartosz Sawicki (UT), 8-7(3)
Singles (Order of finish: 1,6,5)
1. #16 Austin Smith (UGA) d. #32 Mikelis Libietis (UT), 6-4, 6-2
2. #30 Nathan Pasha (UGA) vs. #21 Hunter Reese (UT), 6-7(3), 3-2, susp.
3. #66 Ben Wagland (UGA) vs. Jarryd Chaplin (UT), 4-6, 6-2, 1-1, susp.
4. #76 Garrett Brasseaux (UGA) vs. Andrew Dromsky (UT), 6-3, 6-5, susp.
5. Hernus Pieters (UGA) d. Markus Kerner (UT), 7-6(6), 6-1
6. #110 Nick Wood (UGA) d. Bartosz Sawicki (UT), 6-3, 6-1