May 12, 2012
ATHENS-----The third-ranked Georgia men's tennis team opened the NCAA Tournament with a 4-0 win over South Carolina State on Saturday at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. The Bulldogs will face Florida State Sunday at 2 p.m. for a berth in the NCAA Championships to be held May 18-22 in Athens.
Hernus Pieters furnished the clincher for the Bulldogs (24-2), who will look to advance to the Round of 16 for the ninth straight year with a win Sunday.
"I'm pleased with the way we played," said Georgia head coach Manuel Diaz. "We need to play better a little bit better tomorrow to beat Florida State. They did a great job in coming back to win today. They are going to be a big challenge tomorrow. Overall we did a good job today, and I'm really pleased."
Georgia rolled in the doubles point to take a 1-0 lead. First at No. 3, the team of KU Singh and Wil Spencer beat Tomas Bizon and Young-Kwang Lee, 8-1, then 41st-ranked Nathan Pasha and Ignacio Taboada clinched the point at No. 2 with an 8-3 win over Dymtro Kovalevych and Anton Protsenko. With their win at No. 3, Singh and Spencer improved to 13-3, while Pasha and Taboada remained perfect at 11-0 this season.
Pasha extended the lead to 2-0 in singles as he cruised past Nikitin at No. 5, 6-0, 6-0, then No. 32 Doumbia downed Protsenko, 6-2, 6-2, at No. 3. Pieters followed with his fifth clincher of the season for the Bulldogs at No. 6, 6-2, 6-2 over Jang Eun-Lee.
"South Carolina State won their conference, so we knew they were not a bad team," said Pieters, who picked up his team-leading 34th singles win. "We had two weeks off after the SEC Tournament, so it was important for us to stay focused. I think we did that today."
Matches at Nos. 1, 3 and 4 were suspended with Georgia leading in all three.
Georgia and Florida State will square off in Sunday's second round for the second time in three years. In 2010 the Bulldogs claimed a thrilling 4-3 win over the Seminoles, sparking a run to the NCAA semifinals. Florida State came back from a 3-0 deficit to beat Boise State 4-3 earlier Saturday.
South Carolina State ends its season at 17-3.