Bulldogs Edge Vanderbilt 4-3 In Opener
ATHENS, Ga. --- The No. 6 Georgia men's tennis team opened its dual match season Friday, defeating 37th-ranked Vanderbilt by a 4-3 score at the Lindsey Hopkins Indoor Facility on day one of the ITA Kickoff in Athens.
The Bulldogs won the doubles point, then snagged wins on court Nos. 1, 4, and 5 to pull out the win and improve to 1-0 on the early season. Georgia will take on 32nd-ranked Virginia Commonwealth at 2 p.m. on Saturday with the winner advancing to the prestigious ITA National Team Indoor Championships next month in Seattle.
"It was a tough match," said 25th-year head coach Manuel Diaz. "We expected Vanderbilt to be very good. They have as good a 1-2 punch at the top of their lineup as anybody. KU [Singh] played a great match vs. Ryan Lipman at No. 1, and A.J. [Gonzales Austin] got off to an amazing start at No. 2 and won the first set 6-1, before Nathan [Pasha] made some adjustments. I'm proud of our freshmen on the court with the match on the line - it was tremendous for Austin Smith to clinch it for us."
Georgia picked up the early 1-0 lead with the doubles point. The Bulldogs got an 8-3 win for the team of Singh and Pasha over Austin and Suresh Eswaran, 8-3, at the second spot, before Vandy rebounded with an 8-4 win for Jeff Offerdahl and Rhys Johnson over Georgia's Eric Diaz and Garrett Brasseaux. The Bulldogs clinched the point with the win at court one, as the No. 5 pair of Ben Wagland and Hernus Pieters defeated the Commodores' Lipman and Marc van der Merwe, 8-4.
Georgia went up 2-0 when the freshman Wagland cruised to a 6-3, 6-0 win over van der Merwe, but Vanderbilt got on the board at No. 3 when Johnson downed 16th-ranked Pieters 6-3, 6-3 to cut it to 2-1. Georgia took a 3-1 lead when No. 8 Singh rolled to a 6-3, 6-2 win over No. 17 Lipman, but Vandy again came back to make it 3-2 with a tough three-set win for 20th-ranked Austin, going 6-1, 1-6, 6-2 over No. 19 Pasha at No. 2.
That left just Georgia's freshman duo of Smith and Nick Wood on court in their dual match debuts, and Smith pulled out the clincher for the Bulldogs with his 6-3, 7-5 victory over Offerdahl to seal the win for Georgia at No. 5. On the remaining court, Wood surged to a quick 6-1 win in the first set over 114th-ranked Yee at No. 6, but Yee came back to collect the 1-6, 7-6(3), 1-0(7) tiebreak victory to make the final score 4-3.
Georgia is hosting one of the 15 legs of the ITA Kickoff, with the winner of each site advancing to ITA Team Indoors Feb. 15-18. Georgia has won the indoor championship twice and reached the finals six times, most recently in 2009. The Bulldogs have advanced out of the regional rounds every year since its inception in 1973 with the exception of 2003.
Vanderbilt tonight drops to 1-2 on the season, and will meet Minnesota in tomorrow's 9 a.m. match.
Live scoring and the Georgia Tennis Live Chat will be available on Georgiadogs.com.
#6 Georgia 4, #39 Vanderbilt 3
#8 KU Singh (UG) def. #17 Ryan Lipman (VU) 6-3, 6-2
#20 Gonzales Austin (VU) def. #19 Nathan Pasha (UG) 6-1, 1-6, 6-2
Rhys Johnson (VU) def. #16 Hernus Pieters (UG) 6-3, 6-3
Ben Wagland (UG) def. Marc van der Merwe (VU) 6-3, 6-0
Austin Smith (UG) def. Jeff Offerdahl (VU) 6-3, 7-5
#114 Kris Yee (VU) def. Nick Wood (UG) 1-6, 7-6 (7-3), 1-0 (10-7)
#5 Ben Wagland/Hernus Pieters (UG) def. Ryan Lipman/Marc van der Merwe (VU) 8-4
KU Singh/Nathan Pasha (UG) def. Gonzales Austin/Suresh Eswaran (VU) 8-3
Jeff Offerdahl/Rhys Johnson (VU) def. Garrett Brasseaux/Eric Diaz (UG) 8-4
Vanderbilt 1-2; National ranking #39
Georgia 1-0; National ranking #6
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (4,3,1,2,5,6)
Official: Walt Williams T-4:38 A-254