Head coach Manuel Diaz
April 18, 2014
NASHVILLE --- The top-seeded and Southeastern Conference regular season champion Georgia men’s tennis team suffered a 4-2 loss to No. 8 seed and host Vanderbilt in SEC Championships quarterfinal action Friday evening at the Commodores’ Currey Tennis Center in Nashville. The Bulldogs drop to 16-7 on the season and will await the NCAA Tournament selection show set for Tues., April 29 at 5 p.m.
Georgia dropped the doubles point for just the fifth time this season, but went on to win five of six singles first sets. Vanderbilt forced third sets on three courts and rallied to complete the upset.
“Vanderbilt outplayed us in key moments of the doubles as well as in singles,” said head coach Manuel Diaz. “They were just better today. They seemed more comfortable in the important moments, and they out-performed us. There is no other explanation. They played better today and deserved to win. We’re just going to have to regroup and try to play better tennis. We did not play well enough to win today.”
Vanderbilt won the first completed doubles match with an 8-3 victory for Rhys Johnson and Pen Binet at No. 2 over Garrett Brasseaux and Nathan Pasha. But Georgia responded with an 8-5 win for Eric Diaz and Austin Smith – their 16th of the season – at No. 3, setting up court No. 1 as the deciding match. There, the teams traded early breaks and eventually went to a tiebreaker, where the Commodores’ fifth-ranked pair of Gonzales Austin and Ryan Lipman beat No. 7 Hernus Pieters and Ben Wagland, 8-7(2) to give Vandy an early 1-0 lead heading to singles.
The Bulldogs would win five of the six opening sets, and pulled even in the team match at 1-1 as 20th-ranked Smith defeated No. 59 Lipman, 6-1, 7-5. Georgia took a 2-1 lead as Nick Wood also used straight sets to defeat Suresh Eswaran, 7-6(8), 6-1, but Vanderbilt evened it at 2-2 as 24th-ranked Austin defeated Pasha in a pair of tiebreakers, 7-6(3), 7-6(10).
Vanderbilt pulled back the momentum at that point, up breaks on each of the three remaining courts. It became a 3-2 lead for the hosts as Ryan Smith defeated Pieters, 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-3 at No. 6, and Johnson provided the clinch for VU as he bested Wagland, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 to seal the upset. Brasseaux was down a break at 3-1 in the third when that match was suspended.
The Bulldogs were attempting to sweep the SEC regular season and tournament titles for the eighth time and second in a row.
#23 Vanderbilt 4, #9 Georgia 2
1. #20 Austin Smith (UGA) def. #59 Ryan Lipman (VU) 6-1, 7-5
2. #24 Gonzales Austin (VU) def. #31 Nathan Pasha (UGA) 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (12-10)
3. #83 Garrett Brasseaux (UGA) vs. Kris Yee (VU) 7-5, 2-6, 1-3, unfinished
4. Rhys Johnson (VU) def. #77 Ben Wagland (UGA) 5-7, 6-4, 6-3
5. Nick Wood (UGA) def. Suresh Eswaran (VU) 7-6 (10-8), 6-1
6. Ryan Smith (VU) def. Hernus Pieters (UGA) 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3
1. #5 Gonzales Austin/Ryan Lipman (VU) def. #7 Hernus Pieters/Ben Wagland (UGA) 8-7 (7-2)
2. Rhys Johnson/Pen Binet (VU) def. Garrett Brasseaux/Nathan Pasha (UGA) 8-3
3. Eric Diaz/Austin Smith (UGA) def. Ryan Smith/Suresh Eswaran (VU) 8-5
Vanderbilt 16-9, 5-7 SEC; National ranking #23
Georgia 16-7, 11-1 SEC; National ranking #9
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (1,5,2,6,4)
2014 SEC Men's Tennis Tournament
Quarterfinal Match - No. 1 seed vs. No. 8 seed
Official: Anthony Montero