The undefeated No. 4 Bulldogs knew they'd have their work cut out for them as they hosted No. 29 Georgia Tech yesterday at the Lindsey Hopkins Indoor Facility of the Dan Magill Tennis Center. Last year, Tech won for the first time since 1988 and only the second time since 1969, but the North Avenue Trade School is offering an excellent team again this year, coming to town on a three-match winning streak. Last year's heartbreaking 4-3 loss was avenged this year as the Bulldogs beat the Yellow Jackets 7-0.
A major part of the Jackets' strength rests with the doubles team of Kevin King and Juan Spir, ranked second nationally. King and Spir also are the Jackets' 1 and 2 singles players, with King ranked ninth nationally. This was expected to be the toughest challenge yet for the Bulldogs.
When the doubles matches began, the Tech pair of King and Spir showed they deserved their lofty ranking by taking care of Georgia's #1 doubles pair of Garrett Brasseaux and Wil Spencer (No. 8 nationally) by a score of 8-2. At the 3 court, the Bulldogs pulled even when Nathan Pasha and Ignacio Taboada defeated Dusan Miljevic and Eduardo Segura 8-3. Meanwhile, at No. 2 doubles, the Jackets' Juan Melian and Vikram Hundal played it close against Sadio Doumbia and Hernus Pieters before the Dawgs pulled away for an 8-4 win, giving UGA the doubles point and a 1-0 over all lead. Next up, singles.
Our #1 singles player, Spencer, sat out singles play for the third consecutive match, apparently due to some minor but nagging injury issues. The pre-match lineup had to be altered as everyone else moved up a spot, and Campbell Johnson was called off the bench to play at No. 6. The team would have to play at top form. They did.
Because the match was indoors, only four singles matches could get started, with the remaining two beginning when courts became available. Georgia took the first four sets, as Doumbia (moving up to take the No. 1 spot), KU Singh, Taboada, and Pieters bested their Yellow Jacket counterparts. All four went on to take their matches in straight sets: Pieters over Miljevic 6-4, 62; Singh defeated Spir 6-4, 7-5; Taboada defeated Melian 6-4, 6-4 (clinching the team victory by plating the fourth of seven runs to Tech's zero); and Doumbia taking down Tech's top player, King, 6-3, 6-4.
Completing the shutout were Campbell, defeating Tech's Sebastian Lopez 6-3, 6-1 and showing the quality of the Dawgs' depth, and Pasha, who came out on top of a grueling battle with Segura 6-7 (8-6), 6-4, 1-0 (12-10). I suppose it would be magnanimous to offer a tip of the hat to Segura who fought valiantly for his team in an unsuccessful effort to avoid the goose egg when it might have been mentally easier to call it a day (since it was, for his team, already a day).
It is an immense pleasure to defeat Tech at anything. It is especially satisfying to do it in such a decisive way and with a makeshift lineup. I followed the live chat, available for most if not all matches (along with live scoring), for a lot of the match. The UGA commentator suggested that Coach Diaz was not through mixing and matching the lineup, including doubles teams. The running commentary is worth your time if you have some to spare and can't make it to the courts. The chat hostess remarked that Coach Magill, who was sitting near her, said as the doubles matches were coming to a close that he missed the days when each doubles match counted as a point instead of being combined as a best-of-three single point. Magill's passion for Georgia and for the rivalry with Tech was apparent. I had to smile.
The Bulldogs departed Athens this morning for the ITA National Team Indoor Championship at UVA, where they'll have a practice day tomorrow and face No. 13 California Friday at noon. Other SEC squads making the trip to join the field of 16 are Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky, and Auburn, but look to UGA, Southern Cal, UVA, and Ohio State to make the most noise on the courts.
Wreck Tech! and