Georgia Falls To USC At National Indoors
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. --- The No. 4 Georgia men’s tennis team won the first set in four of six singles matches against top-seeded and top-ranked Southern California, but the loss of the doubles point and a late rally by the Trojans proved too much as the three-time defending NCAA champions bounced the Bulldogs in the ITA National Indoor semifinals Sunday at the Boar’s Head Sports Club.
Georgia (8-1) will return from Charlottesville to open the outdoor portion of the 2012 season next Monday.
“We’re obviously disappointed with the loss, but I am very encouraged,” said head coach Manuel Diaz. “I am happy with the way we fought and competed. USC really came out strong in doubles, and the last couple matches we haven’t played as well in doubles as we have been, and we’ll need to take a look at that. Even when we lost the doubles point, we came out and won the first set in four singles matches and had a lot of momentum. We just needed to close a little stronger. We had momentum, but we did not put USC in the hole. We had a quick win at No. 6 to tie it, but we didn’t make them trail again after that. That’s something we can do a better job of, but we’re encouraged because I think we know by now that we have what it takes to beat anybody in the country. We can compete with any team for our conference championship and for the NCAA championship in May.”
Southern Cal raced out in doubles on its way to snagging the early point with wins on courts 1 and 2. First off was the 28th-ranked tandem of Steve Johnson and Yannick Hanfmann, who went 8-3 over No. 7 Wil Spencer and Garrett Brasseaux at the top position. They were followed by a win on court two, as Daniel Nguyen and Ray Sarmiento defeated Sadio Doumbia and Hernus Pieters, 8-2, to claim the all-important doubles point. Georgia’s third team of Ignacio Taboada and Nathan Pasha were leading Emilio Gomez and Roberto Quiroz 7-6 at the time, but the match was called after the Trojans clinched to take the early 1-0 lead.
The Bulldogs responded in a big way, however, claiming first-set victories on courts 2, 3, 4, and 6 to take back the momentum. The freshman Pasha, who went 3-0 on the weekend including two match-clinching victories, didn’t need as much time on Sunday as he finished his match 6-3, 6-1 over 86th-ranked Quiroz on court six to tie things at 1-1.
Georgia still had leads on three of the five other courts, but Southern Cal was the next winner as No. 36 Hanfmann defeated No. 72 Pieters, 6-3, 6-4, to push the Trojans back in front, 2-1. At No. 4, Gomez rallied from a 6-3 loss in the first set to take next two over Taboada, winning 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 to give USC a 3-1 lead, and 11th-ranked Steve Johnson – the defending NCAA singles champion – completed his 6-4, 7-5 win over No. 21 Doumbia at No. 1 singles, using a late break in the second set to secure Southern Cal’s final point to seal the 4-1 victory.
The Bulldogs had their chances on the remaining courts, with KU Singh up a set and 5-1 in the second on No. 3 and Spencer in the third set with Ray Sarmiento, but the Trojans pulled out the win before Georgia could make it any closer.
Georgia leaves Charlottesville with a 2-1 record on the weekend following wins over No. 13 California in the first round and No. 5 Florida in yesterday’s quarterfinal match, standing at 8-1 on the season.
The Bulldogs return home and will gear up for the outdoor opener vs. Furman on Mon., Feb. 27 at 2:30 p.m. at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. Georgia then opens SEC play the following weekend, traveling to South Carolina and Florida March 2-4.
#1 Southern California 4, #4 Georgia 1
1. #11 Steve Johnson (USC) def. #21 Sadio Doumbia (UGA) 6-4, 7-5
2. #18 Ray Sarmiento (USC) vs. #3 Wil Spencer (UGA) 3-6, 6-4, 4-3, unfinished
3. #14 Daniel Nguyen (USC) vs. #55 KU Singh (UGA) 4-6, 6-4, 1-5, unfinished
4. #47 Emilio Gomez (USC) def. #43 Ignacio Taboada (UGA) 3-6, 6-2, 6-2
5. #36 Yannick Hanfmann (USC) def. #72 Hernus Pieters (UGA) 6-3, 6-4
6. Nathan Pasha (UGA) def. #86 Roberto Quiroz (USC) 6-3, 6-1
1. #28 Steve Johnson/Yannick Hanfmann (USC) def. #7 Wil Spencer/Garrett Brasseaux (UGA) 8-3
2. Daniel Nguyen/Ray Sarmiento (USC) def. Sadio Doumbia/Hernus Pieters (UGA) 8-2
3. Emilio Gomez/Roberto Quiroz (USC) vs. Ignacio Taboada/Nathan Pasha (UGA) 6-7, unfinished
Georgia 8-1; National ranking #4
Southern California 10-0; National ranking #1
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2); Singles (6,5,4,1)