Ignacio Taboada won his fourth straight singles match on Saturday.
April 16, 2011
ATHENS, Ga. --- The No. 5 Georgia men's tennis team suffered a close 4-3 loss to SEC rival and fourth-ranked Tennessee Saturday afternoon at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex, closing out the 2011 regular season at 19-4 (10-1). The match was Senior Day for the duo of Drake Bernstein and Javier Garrapiz.
The Bulldogs enjoyed the support of a season-high crowd of 2,060, which is also the highest total in the nation this season and the highest since the Intercollegiate Tennis Assocation (ITA) began keeping records in 2008. Georgia broke its own season-best record of 1,146 last Friday night vs. Florida.
The Volunteers used the win to improve to 20-3 (10-1). With matching conference records Georgia and Tennessee split the regular-season title heading into next week's SEC Championships in Gainesville, Fla.
"I'm really proud of our guys - they played a tough match against a veteran team and they are still SEC champions," said head coach Manuel Diaz. "Tennessee did a great job today. They came up big in some of the big moments of the match. They're a great team and they deserved to win today. Our team showed tremendous heart, and I believe with all my heart that we are continuing to improve and getting to where we want to be. We've had a great season to this point and now we're looking forward to building on it at the SEC Championships next week."
"I also need to thank our fans - we have the most fantastic fans in the country and it showed today in this record-setting crowd. We owe them a lot for their support and for coming out today."
To start the day, Georgia got a banner win at No. 1 doubles as the eighth-ranked team of Garrapiz and freshman Hernus Pieters defeated the nation's top-ranked pair of J.P. Smith and Boris Conkic, 8-3. It was the first loss of the dual match season for Smith and Conkic, who entered 17-0 this spring.
But Tennessee came back with a win at No. 2 as the 47th-ranked pair of Rhyne Williams and Tennys Sandgren defeated No. 49 Sadio Doumbia and Ignacio Taboada by a final of 8-5. That left it up to court three, where Bernstein and Wil Spencer were battling the team of Matteo Fago and Ed Jones. The match was even at 6-6 before the Vols broke to take the 7-6 lead. Tennessee then had four match points before finally closing it out at 8-6 to take the all-important doubles point, snapping the Bulldogs' string of seven straight doubles points won.
It was even in a hurry as Taboada made quick work of Jones on court six, winning 6-1, 6-2 to bring it to 1-1 with his fourth consecutive victory. The Vols went back ahead as Conkic defeated Bernstein by a score of 6-4, 6-2 on four, before Pieters tied it again at 2-2 with a 6-4, 6-4 win over 63rd-ranked Fago at No. 5.
Tennessee got its third point of the afternoon with a win for fourth-ranked Williams over No. 29 Garrapiz, 6-3, 6-3, at No. 2. That would leave just court Nos. 1 and 3 still on, which were both tight.
The clinching decision came at No. 1, where No. 13 Smith pulled out the 7-5, 6-3 win over No. 16 Spencer to give the Vols the 4-2 lead. No. 69 Doumbia and 47th-ranked Sandgren split sets and would play out the third, where Doumbia claimed a 7-3 tiebreaker victory to take the match 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-6(3) and bring the score to 4-3. The loss was Sandgren's first of his career in SEC play and snapped his 18-match singles winning streak.
Georgia today saw its 14-match winning streak come to an end. Incidentally, the Bulldogs' last two losses have both come at the hand of the Volunteers 57 days apart, as Georgia embarked on its streak after falling to Tennessee in the first round of the ITA Indoors back on Feb. 18 in Seattle.
Before the match, Georgia honored Bernstein and Garrapiz for their contributions to the program over the past four years. This season they become two of just 14 players in Georgia history to win over 100 singles matches and now stand with a career dual match record of 92-19 (.829).
Next up the Bulldogs will look to defend the regular-season title by taking the tournament title. Georgia will head to Gainesville for the 2011 SEC Championships April 21-24. The bracket for the tournament will be announced this evening following the conclusion of all Saturday matches around the league.
#4 Tennessee 4, #5 Georgia 3
1. #13 J.P. Smith (TENN) def. #16 Wil Spencer (UGA) 7-5, 6-3
2. #4 Rhyne Williams (TENN) def. #29 Javier Garrapiz (UGA) 6-3, 6-3
3. #69 Sadio Doumbia (UGA) def. #47 Tennys Sandgren (TENN) 6-2, 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-3)
4. Boris Conkic (TENN) def. Drake Bernstein (UGA) 6-4, 6-2
5. Hernus Pieters (UGA) def. #63 Matteo Fago (TENN) 6-4, 6-4
6. Ignacio Taboada (UGA) def. Ed Jones (TENN) 6-1, 6-2
1. #8 Javier Garrapiz/Hernus Pieters (UGA) def. #1 J.P. Smith/Boris Conkic (TENN) 8-3
2. #47 Tennys Sandgren/Rhyne Williams (TENN) def. #49 Sadio Doumbia/Ignacio Taboada (UGA) 8-5
3. Matteo Fago/Ed Jones (TENN) def. Drake Bernstein/Wil Spencer (UGA) 8-6
Tennessee 20-3 (10-1); National ranking #4
Georgia 19-4 (10-1); National ranking #5
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (6,4,5,2,1,3)
Official: Andy MacFarlane T-4:32 A-2060