OXFORD, Miss. --- A loss of the doubles point for just the third time this season proved costly as the seventh-ranked Georgia men’s tennis team lost a heartbreaker to No. 9 Ole Miss, 4-3, on Friday at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center in Oxford.
Entering the match, the Bulldogs had won the doubles point in 10 of their 12 outings in 2013, but setbacks at Nos. 1 and 2 cost Georgia as the Rebels took a 1-0 lead into singles that later made the difference. The Bulldogs fall to 9-4 (1-1 SEC) with the loss, while Ole Miss improves to 9-2 (3-0), with Georgia’s fourth-match winning streak coming to an end.
“It was a tough one today,” said head coach Manuel Diaz. “We didn’t play as well in doubles as we have been, which is the nature of the sport. Ole Miss played very good doubles and deserved to win. In the end, their veteran players made plays when it mattered and that was the difference. I am proud of our freshmen even though they lost today – they’re continuing to show a lot of promise and they’ll get better from this. All the credit to Ole Miss for making the plays they had to make when they were down. They’re a very good team and they’re tough to beat at home.”
After Georgia’s No. 3 doubles team of Austin Smith and KU Singh posted a convincing 8-3 win over William Kallberg and Adriaan du Toit, the Rebels responded with wins on the remaining courts as the fifth-ranked team of Jonas Lutjen and Nik Scholtz won 8-4 against Georgia’s No. 6 Hernus Pieters and Ben Wagland at No. 1 and the clinch coming via an 8-6 decision for Johan Backstrom and Stefan Lindmark over 32nd-ranked Nathan Pasha and Garrett Brasseaux at No. 2. It was the first dual match loss of the season for Pasha and Brasseaux, who entered at 7-0.
But the Bulldogs came out firing in singles, winning four of six first sets on their way to grabbing a 3-1 lead over the Rebels with three quick victories. The score was evened at 1-1 with a 6-4, 6-1 win for No. 42 Pasha over No. 106 Lindmark at No. 3, and Georgia went up 2-1 with a 6-1, 6-2 victory for Brasseaux over Adrian Forberg Skogeng at No. 6. The lead increased to 3-1 as No. 72 Pieters posted a 6-4, 6-0 win over Backstrom at No. 5, but the Rebels weren’t finished.
It became 3-2 as 95th-ranked Wagland fell 7-5, 6-1 to fifth-ranked Lutjen at No. 2, and things were tied again when No. 11 Singh dropped a second-set tiebreaker to fall 6-2, 7-6(2) to 12th-ranked Scholtz at No. 1. That left just the rookie Smith on court playing at No. 4, and he was unable to rebound from an early break in the third set as he fell 1-6, 7-6(7), 6-4 to 55th-ranked Kallberg in the deciding match.
The Bulldogs are next in action on Sunday, as they remain in the Magnolia State to take on Mississippi State Sunday at 2 p.m. in Starkville, Miss. Live scoring will be available on Georgiadogs.com courtesy of MSU. Diaz on Sunday will try to move into sole possession of the second-most wins all-time by an SEC men’s tennis head coach, as he is currently tied with former UK coach Dennis Emery with 568. The two trail only Bulldog legend Dan Magill, who amassed 706 career victories in 34 seasons from 1955-88.
#9 Ole Miss 4, #7 Georgia 3
1. #12 Nik Scholtz (OM) def. #11 KU Singh (UG) 6-2, 7-6 (7-2)
2. #5 Jonas Lutjen (OM) def. #95 Ben Wagland (UG) 7-5, 6-1
3. #42 Nathan Pasha (UG) def. #106 Stefan Lindmark (OM) 6-4, 6-1
4. #55 William Kallberg (OM) def. Austin Smith (UG) 1-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-4
5. #72 Hernus Pieters (UG) def. Johan Backstrom (OM) 6-4, 6-0
6. Garrett Brasseaux (UG) def. Adrian Skogeng (OM) 6-1, 6-2
1. #5 Jonas Lutjen/Nik Scholtz (OM) def. #6 Ben Wagland/Hernus Pieters (UG) 8-4
2. Johan Backstrom/Stefan Lindmark (OM) def. #32 Nathan Pasha/Garrett Brasseaux (UG) 8-6
3. Austin Smith/KU Singh (UG) def. William Kallberg/Adriaan du Toit (OM) 8-3
Georgia 9-4, 1-1; National ranking #7
Ole Miss 9-2, 3-0; National ranking #9
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (3,6,5,2,1,4)