ATHENS, Ga ----- The ninth-ranked Georgia men's tennis team beat the eighth-ranked Tennessee Volunteers in their SEC opener 4-1 on a cold Friday afternoon at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
"Our guys came out and competed very hard and [winning the doubles point] gave us a lot of confidence for singles," said head coach Manuel Diaz. "We had a great start on every court, but Tennessee didn't go away. I'm really proud with how our guys stayed focused. I'm very happy and proud of all of our guys. Tennessee is a very good, young team and I think we're making strides as a very good, young team ourselves."
Georgia captured the doubles point for the ninth time in 11 attempts this season. Tennessee struck first when Hunter Reese and Brandon Fickey beat Eric Diaz and Austin Smith 8-5 at No. 3. Georgia's sixth-ranked duo of Hernus Pieters and Ben Wagland quickly evened things up at No. 1 as they took down 40th-ranked Mikelis Libietis and Jarryd Chaplin. With the doubles point all evened up, the 32nd-ranked tandem of Nathan Pasha and Garrett Brasseaux overcame 34th-ranked John Collins and Ed Jones 9-8 (7-4). Pasha and Brasseaux are currently riding a seven match winning streak, the longest on the team.
The Bulldogs carried the momentum into singles by winning the first set in all six matches. Marco Nunez extended Georgia's lead to 2-0 when he defeated the Volunteer's Collins 6-4, 6-1 at No. 6. Brasseaux was next to strike when he defeated Ed Jones at No. 5 by a score of 7-6(7-3), 6-4. That win made the score 3-0 in favor of Georgia. Tennessee continued to fight, and claimed its first point when 13th-ranked Libietis overcame 42nd-ranked Pasha 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 at No. 1. With Georgia up 3-1, 95th-ranked Wagland gutted out a 7-6(10-8), 6-4 win against 33rd-ranked Reese. Wagland's match clinching victory was his third on the year. The previous two were against VCU and ETSU.
With the outcome of the match decided, the other two matches were left unfinished. At No. 3, 72nd-ranked Pieters trailed 76th-ranked Fickey 3-6, 6-4, 5-0. At No. 4 where Smith led Chaplin 7-6(7-3), 6-5.
Georgia improves to 48-23 versus Tennessee all-time.
Georgia returns to action on Monday March 4th at 2:30 when they take on William & Mary. The match will be played at the Dan Magill Tennis complex and admission is free.
#9 Georgia 4, #8 Tennessee 1
1. #13 Mikelis Libietis (UT) def. #42 Nathan Pasha (UG) 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
2. #95 Ben Wagland (UG) def. #33 Hunter Reese (UT) 7-6 (10-8), 6-4
3. #72 Hernus Pieters (UG) vs. #76 Brandon Fickey (UT) 6-3, 4-6, 0-5, unfinished
4. Austin Smith (UG) vs. Jarryd Chaplin (UT) 7-6 (7-3), 6-5, unfinished
5. Garrett Brasseaux (UG) def. Edwards Jones (UT) 7-6 (7-3), 6-4
6. Marco Nunez (UG) def. John Collins (UT) 6-4, 6-1
1. #6 Hernus Pieters/Ben Wagland (UG) def. #40 Mikelis Libietis/Jarryd Chaplin (UT) 8-5
2. #32 Nathan Pasha/Garrett Brasseaux (UG) def. #34 John Collins/Edwards Jones (UT) 9-8 (7-4)
3. Brandon Fickey/Hunter Reese (UT) def. Austin Smith/Eric Diaz (UG) 8-5
Tennessee 12-3 (0-1); National ranking #8
Georgia 8-3 (1-0); National ranking #9
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (6,5,1,2)
Official: Walt Williams T-3:00 A-478