March 21, 2014
ATHENS, Ga. --- The 10th-ranked Georgia men's tennis team squared off against the only other unbeaten team in the Southeastern Conference on Friday night, and earned a 4-1 win over No. 14 Kentucky at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex to move into sole possession of first place in the league standings. The Bulldogs (11-5, 6-0) have won eight straight matches and 22 in a row at home.
The Bulldogs turned in the victory in front of a season-best crowd of 1,113.
"We're getting a little better every time out, and getting some momentum and confidence," said head coach Manuel Diaz - who stands just four wins shy of 600 for his career. "[Being in first place] is an opportunity for the guys to feel like their hard work is paying off, but we have a long way to go in the conference. There are some tremendous teams left to play - starting with Vanderbilt on Sunday. Then we have to travel to Texas A&M, who was picked to finish second in the conference."
"We have some challenges ahead, and are looking forward to getting better and becoming a more seasoned team," Diaz said. "We're gaining more confidence the more matches we get under our belt. Right now we are in a good place, and are feeling good about the way we're playing."
The Bulldogs took an early 1-0 lead over the Wildcats by claiming the doubles point for the 12th time in 16 tries this season. Nathan Pasha and Garrett Brasseaux won 8-5 over Alejandro Gomez and Beck Pennington at No. 2, and were soon followed by 21st-ranked Ben Wagland and Hernus Pieters over No. 26 Tom Jomby and Kevin Lai, 8-4, at No. 1 to seal it. Wagland and Pieters have won five in a row.
Georgia jumped in front 2-0 when reigning SEC Player of the Week Austin Smith cruised to a 6-3, 6-1 win over Gomez at No. 2, marking his eighth straight victory and team-leading 28th of the season. Kentucky cut the lead in half at 2-1 when Jomby bested Pasha, 6-3, 6-3, at No. 1, but Georgia stormed back with a 7-6(4), 6-1 win for Nick Wood over Grant Roberts at No. 6 to make it 3-1.
With the teams battling on each of the remaining three courts, the Bulldogs then got the deciding point from Pieters at No. 5, as he broke late in the third set and held on to win 6-0, 3-6, 6-3 over Lai - wrapping up the victory for Georgia with his team-best fourth clinch of the year.
Kentucky falls to 12-5 (5-1) with the loss, while Georgia improves to 43-9 all-time vs. UK.
The Bulldogs are back in action here on Sunday, hosting the 33rd-ranked Commodores for a 1 p.m. match. Georgiadogs.com will offer live video and live scoring, in addition to the Georgia Tennis Live Chat.
#10 Georgia 4, #14 Kentucky 1
1. #10 Tom Jomby (UK) def. #25 Nathan Pasha (UGA) 6-3, 6-3
2. #13 Austin Smith (UGA) def. Alejandro Gomez (UK) 6-3, 6-1
3. #87 Ben Wagland (UGA) vs. #67 Beck Pennington (UK) 7-6 (8-6), 4-6, 1-2, unfinished
4. #79 Garrett Brasseaux (UGA) vs. Jerry Lopez (UK) 6-7 (8-10), 2-3, unfinished
5. Hernus Pieters (UGA) def. Kevin Lai (UK) 6-0, 3-6, 6-3
6. Nick Wood (UGA) def. Grant Roberts (UK) 7-6 (7-4), 6-1
1. #21 Ben Wagland/Hernus Pieters (UGA) def. #26 Tom Jomby/Kevin Lai (UK) 8-4
2. Nathan Pasha/Garrett Brasseaux (UGA) def. Alejandro Gomez/Beck Pennington (UK) 8-5
3. Austin Smith/Eric Diaz (UGA) vs. #73 Ryuji Hirooka/Nils Ellefsen (UK) 6-5, unfinished
Kentucky 12-5 (5-1); National ranking #14
Georgia 11-5 (6-0); National ranking #10
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1); Singles (2,1,6,5)
Official: Clark Weaver T-3:00 A-1113