SEATTLE --- The No. 6 Georgia men's tennis team suffered a tough 4-2 loss to seventh-ranked Kentucky on Sunday in the quarterfinal consolation round on the Bulldogs' final day at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships at the Nordstrom Tennis Center.
The Bulldogs (5-3) won the doubles point before the teams split first sets in singles, three each. After Georgia took a 2-0 lead in the match, Kentucky won three straight singles to go up 3-2 before claiming the clinching point with a third-set tiebreaker at No. 5.
"Our guys are disappointed in the outcome the last couple days, because they've put themselves in a position to win," said head coach Manuel Diaz. "We've put ourselves in a position to play with the very best. We're here without our senior [KU Singh] and we have two juniors and one sophomore. Our freshmen are showing tremendous potential. Our more veteran players - Hernus Pieters and Nathan Pasha - are just showing tremendous leadership. This group will be a great team down the road."
Georgia's doubles again played well, and the Bulldogs claimed the early point for the third time this tournament with wins at Nos. 2 and 3. First off was the team of Pasha and Garrett Brasseaux, who teamed up to defeat UK's Alejandro Gomez and Ryuji Hirooka, 8-4. They were followed by Austin Smith and Nick Wood, who posted an 8-5 decision over Grant Roberts and Anthony Rossi at No. 3 to seal the point. The match at No. 1 was suspended with Georgia's fifth-ranked team of Pieters and Ben Wagland leading Tom Jomby and Kevin Lai, 7-6.
Georgia and Kentucky then split first sets in singles at three apiece, and Pieters gave Georgia a 2-0 lead as he cruised to a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Gomez at No. 3. That's when Kentucky would rally, winning three singles matches in a row, including a 6-2, 6-3 win for Lai over Brasseaux at No. 6, a 6-4, 6-4 win for Jomby over Wagland at No. 2, and a 6-4, 7-6(7) tiebreak battle for Rossi over Pasha at No. 1.
That left just court Nos. 4 and 5 on court, where the Bulldogs had won both first sets but found themselves in the third on each. At No. 4, the rookie Wood - recovering from a stomach bug that caused him to miss yesterday's quarterfinal match vs. UCLA - trailed Charles Minc before breaking back to serve at 4-5. But before he could complete the comeback, it was Roberts who pulled out a 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(2), tiebreak triumph over Smith at the five spot, sealing the 4-2 win for the Wildcats.
The Bulldogs finish their weekend at 1-2, following Friday's commanding 4-0 win over Ole Miss and yesterday's 4-1 setback to UCLA played without Wood.
Georgia is back in action next week, hosting Furman on Sun., Feb. 24 and East Tennessee State on Mon., Feb. 25 for the start of the outdoor season, weather permitting.
#7 Kentucky 4, #6 Georgia 2
1. #90 Anthony Rossi (UK) def. #21 Nathan Pasha (UG) 6-4, 7-6 (9-7)
2. #29 Tom Jomby (UK) def. #92 Ben Wagland (UG) 6-4, 6-4
3. #41 Hernus Pieters (UG) def. Alejandro Gomez (UK) 6-1, 6-2
4. Nick Wood (UG) vs. Charles Minc (UK) 6-4, 1-6, 4-5, unfinished
5. Grant Roberts (UK) def. Austin Smith (UG) 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7-2)
6. Kevin Lai (UK) def. Garrett Brasseaux (UG) 6-2, 6-3
1. #5 Hernus Pieters/Ben Wagland (UG) vs. Tom Jomby/Kevin Lai (UK) 7-6, unfinished
2. Nathan Pasha/Garrett Brasseaux (UG) def. Alejandro Gomez/Ryuji Hirooka (UK) 8-4
3. Austin Smith/Nick Wood (UG) def. Grant Roberts/Anthony Rossi (UK) 8-5
Kentucky 10-2; National ranking #7
Georgia 5-3; National ranking #6
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3); Singles (3,6,2,1,5)