April 14, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. --- The fourth-ranked Georgia men’s tennis team closed its 2012 regular season with a bang Saturday, capturing a 7-0 shutout over Eastern Division rival Tennessee at Barksdale Stadium in Knoxville to finish the slate at 20-2 (10-1) heading into next week’s SEC Championships.
Georgia will take second in the SEC with just one loss, while Kentucky claims the regular-season crown with an 11-0 record. The Bulldogs today captured their 20th win of the season, the 20th time in head coach Manuel Diaz’s 24 seasons in which that milestone has been reached. Also today senior Wil Spencer claimed the 100th singles victory of his career as he was victorious at the No. 1 spot.
The Bulldogs drop No. 15 Tennessee to 13-12 (5-6) on the season. Georgia improves to 6-0 on the road and 6-2 against top-15 teams on the year.
“This was a very solid win,” Diaz said. “We played hard and we played well. It was good to see some of our hard work starting to pay off. Our guys are looking forward to the SEC Tournament now, and I think we’re coming along. Frankly, we had a great regular season and in many ways we’re just one tiebreaker away from winning the conference. But we can’t be disappointed – Kentucky has a great team and we need to look forward to proving ourselves in the tournament and going from there.”
“If we play like we’re capable, I feel the sky is the limit, so that’s what we need to start doing. We need to continue to play loose and aggressive, and not worry about being too careful. If anything, that’s where we sometimes come up a bit short. We’re excited about the postseason.”
Georgia won doubles for the 17th time in 22 tries, capturing wins on courts No. 2 and 3. The No. 3 team of Spencer and KU Singh were out to a 7-0 lead before Tennessee made a small run, but Georgia closed it out to win 8-3. The Bulldogs were also victorious on court No. 2, where the team of Nathan Pasha and Ignacio Taboada went 8-2 over Ed Jones and Jarryd Chaplin. The Vols pulled it out on court No. 1, as the 10th-ranked pairing of freshmen Mikelis Libietis downed No. 79 Sadio Doumbia and Hernus Pieters, 8-3.
Already with the 1-0 lead, Georgia again was paced by the freshman Pasha to start singles, as he was first off the court for the sixth time this season. Pasha cruised to a 6-1, 6-2 decision over Taylor Patrick at No. 6 to make it 2-0, good for his ninth straight victory.
The Bulldogs jumped ahead 3-0 as Taboada defeated Chaplin, 6-2, 6-4, at No. 4 singles, and the clinch came soon after as 28th-ranked Singh bested No. 97 Hunter Reese, 6-4, 6-4, to make it 4-0 and seal yet another road win.
Georgia continued to roll with the match already in hand, getting the next win from No. 24 Doumbia at No. 3 as he defeated Brandon Fickey, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 to push it to 5-0. Pieters made it 6-0 as he won a three-setter, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 over Jones at No. 5, and Spencer took care of business at No. 1, earning his milestone 100th victory with a 6-7(3), 6-4, 10-6 win via a super tiebreaker in the third to complete the sweep of UT.
Georgia will head to Starkville, Miss., for the SEC Championships April 19-22, in search of its league-leading 34th overall conference title and eighth in the tournament. The draw for the tournament will be released later today after all matches have been completed.
#4 Georgia 7, #15 Tennessee 0
1. #9 Wil Spencer (UGA) def. #42 Mikelis Libietis (UT) 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 10-6
2. #28 KU Singh (UGA) def. #97 Hunter Reese (UT) 6-4, 6-4
3. #24 Sadio Doumbia (UGA) def. Brandon Fickey (UT) 4-6, 6-1, 6-1
4. #39 Ignacio Taboada (UGA) def. Jarryd Chaplin (UT) 6-2, 6-4
5. #52 Hernus Pieters (UGA) def. Edward Jones (UT) 6-3, 3-6, 6-4
6. Nathan Pasha (UGA) def. Taylor Patrick (UT) 6-1, 6-2
1. #10 Mikelis Libietis/Hunter Reese (UT) def. #79 Sadio Doumbia/Hernus Pieters (UGA) 8-3
2. Nathan Pasha/Ignacio Taboada (UGA) def. Edward Jones/Jarryd Chaplin (UT) 8-2
3. Wil Spencer/KU Singh (UGA) def. Peter Nagovnak/Bryan Swartz (UT) 8-3
Georgia 20-2 (10-1); National ranking #4
Tennessee 13-12 (5-6); National ranking #15
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (6,4,2,3,5,1)