March 18, 2014
Nathan Pasha is a junior from Atlanta on the men's tennis team. He will be writing a blog exclusively for Georgiadogs.com throughout the 2014 season.
By Nathan Pasha
Five dual matches in 10 days over the course of spring break really made it fly. Over spring break, we beat Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Ohio State, South Carolina, and Florida, putting us on a seven-match winning streak. Every single team we competed against over spring break played us extremely tough, and I'm not surprised. Because we are a highly-ranked team, undefeated in conference play, and defending conference champions, it is easy for teams to demand the best of themselves when playing against us.
We took every team's best and came out victorious. Our first two matches against Mississippi State and Ole Miss, with scores of 4-1 and 4-0 respectively, were the most comfortable wins during the week. Although the final scores weren't close, our individual matches were. Most of them were won by just a break in the first and second sets. Our third match, against Ohio State, was a HUGE battle. Ohio State is the fittest looking team in college tennis, and their play reflects that. The match was tied at 3-all until Hernus [Pieters] clinched the 4-3 win for us in a competitive 7-6, 7-6 match. We played South Carolina in our fourth match. We won 4-1, but it was a very hard-fought victory, and we could have easily lost that match if we had not taken them seriously. We got up 3-1 quickly, but it took us approximately another hour to find our fourth point. Garrett [Brasseaux], Austin [Smith], and Ben [Wagland] were still on court looking to give us the clinch, but they were all in super competitive matches. Ben was about to start his third set, and Austin was down a set but up 6-5 in the second, when Garrett finally clinched the match for us in a close three-setter of his own. Our last match was against was against Florida, which was an extremely tough environment to compete in – with 20 mph winds, 83-degree heat, and 450-plus loud Gator fans. The match got tied up at 3-all once again, but Austin Smith won it for us this time. Austin is playing the best tennis of anyone on the team right now. When the deciding match came down to his, I was confident all along that we would win.
Winning against any team in the SEC, regardless of ranking, isn't easy. Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, and Florida all pushed us and made us earn the win. Since the SEC is very competitive, close singles matches, 4-2's and 4-3's, are relatively common. Whether it's to win or just to stay in the match, each team gives us the chance to raise our game and embrace the opportunity to play under pressure. For example, in our win against Ohio State, we were down 3-2 in overall matches until Nick won a close three-setter to keep our chances of winning alive, and set Hernus up to win the match. The coaches have created a culture for our team that encourages us to seek high-pressure situations, which is why we typically do well in tight matches.
This weekend, Kentucky and Vanderbilt will be extremely tough opponents. Vanderbilt is a competitive team with very good No. 1 and 2 singles players, and Kentucky is undefeated, just like us. We will see who on our team gets presented with the opportunity to deliver under pressure.
Pasha and the Bulldogs host the Wildcats on Friday at 4:30 p.m. and the Commodores on Sunday at 1 p.m. Both matches will be played outdoors at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex, weather permitting. Admission is free.