March 14, 2014
COLUMBIA, S.C. --- The Georgia men’s tennis team won the doubles point and quickly tacked on two singles to take a 3-0 lead on its way to a 4-1 road win over No. 48 South Carolina on Friday night at the Carolina Tennis Center in Columbia. The win was the Bulldogs’ sixth in a row, as the team improves to 9-5 (4-0) heading into Sunday’s match at No. 17 Florida.
“I’m extremely proud of the guys,” said head coach Manuel Diaz. “South Carolina really came to play tonight and were very inspired, and I thought we did a phenomenal job. After splitting at 1 and 2 doubles, this time it came down to 3, and while our guys served for the match at 6-5 and were broken, they were sensational and inspiring to watch at the end. Eric [Diaz] hit three forehand winners in the last four points and did an excellent job closing that match out with an exclamation point.”
“In singles, I thought we had our chances to close the match out much earlier, but I’ll tell you what, South Carolina was an inspired team out there and they did not go away. They made us work. We showed a lot of composure, and in singles I was very proud of Nathan [Pasha] for playing just a tremendous match at No. 1. He was off the court in no time. Nick [Wood] did a great job as well to give us the 3-0 lead, and although Hernus [Pieters] went down, he fought extremely hard. That set both Ben [Wagland] and Garrett [Brasseaux] up, and while Ben didn’t finish, he showed tremendous progress. I saw in him tonight the player that led us at No. 1 last year. Kudos to Garrett for closing it out.”
After the Gamecocks’ No. 2 doubles team of Andrew Adams and Kyle Koch downed Pasha and Brasseaux by an 8-5 score, 21st-ranked Wagland and Pieters evened things up with an 8-5 win over No. 56-ranked pair of Chip Cox and Tsvetan Mihov at No. 1. It was then that Diaz and Austin Smith responded from giving up their break late in the match to beat Andrew Schafer and Thiago Pinheiro in a decisive tiebreaker, 8-7(4), to give Georgia the early 1-0 lead. The win pushed Diaz and Smith to 11-1 in dual matches and 4-0 in SEC play.
Pasha made quick work of 88th-ranked Mihov at No. 1, 6-1, 6-1, earning his 24th singles win of the year and giving Georgia a 2-0 lead, before Wood earned a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Schafer at No. 6 to make it 3-0. South Carolina then picked up its first point as Koch defeated Pieters, 3, 6-4, at No. 5 to cut it to 3-1.
While the Bulldogs had their chances at the fourth point much sooner, it would take a third-set win from Brasseaux at No. 4 over Cox to seal it – his third clinch of the season and second in conference action.
With the loss, the Gamecocks fall to 7-8 (0-3) on the year. Georgia is now 35-6 all-time in the series.
The Bulldogs will take on the No. 17 Gators (7-5, 2-1) Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Ring Tennis Complex in Gainesville. UF earned a 4-0 shutout of Tennessee tonight.
#16 Georgia 4, #48 South Carolina 1
1. #25 Nathan Pasha (UGA) def. #88 Tsvetan Mihov (SC) 6-1, 6-1
2. Andrew Adams (SC) vs. #87 Ben Wagland (UGA) 3-6, 7-5, 0-0, unfinished
3. Thiago Pinheiro (SC) vs. #13 Austin Smith (UGA) 7-6 (7-4), 5-6, unfinished
4. #79 Garrett Brasseaux (UGA) def. Chip Cox (SC) 6-4, 4-6, 6-3
5. Kyle Koch (SC) def. Hernus Pieters (UGA) 6-3, 6-4
6. Nick Wood (UGA) def. #125 Andrew Schafer (SC) 6-2, 6-2
1. #21 Ben Wagland/Hernus Pieters (UGA) def. #56 Chip Cox/Tsvetan Mihov (SC) 8-5
2. Andrew Adams/Kyle Koch (SC) def. Nathan Pasha/Garrett Brasseaux (UGA) 8-5
3. Eric Diaz/Austin Smith (UGA) def. Andrew Schafer/Thiago Pinheiro (SC) 8-7 (7-4)
Georgia 9-5 (4-0); National ranking #16
South Carolina 7-8 (0-3); National ranking #48
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1,3); Singles (1,6,5,4)