NASHVILLE, Tenn. --- The sixth-ranked Georgia men’s tennis team bounced back from a loss of the doubles point to win all six first sets in singles on its way to a 4-2 win over No. 13 Vanderbilt Friday afternoon on the road at the Currey Tennis Center in Nashville.
The win pushes the Bulldogs to 13-4 on the season and 5-1 in Southeastern play, while Vanderbilt falls to 13-5 (4-2). Georgia today moves into sole possession of first place in the SEC East and overall after entering the weekend tied with the Commodores as well as the Bulldogs’ Sunday opponent in Kentucky. The Wildcats fell 4-1 to Tennessee Friday at home.
The Commodores went up 1-0 on Georgia after doubles, getting tiebreak victories at Nos. 2 and 3 to snag the early lead. After UGA won the first completed match with an 8-4 win at No. 1 for Ben Wagland and Hernus Pieters over Ryan Lipman and Marc van der Merwe, the duo of KU Singh and Austin Smith fell 9-8(5) to Rhys Johnson and Jeff Offerdahl at No. 3. The deciding match also went 9-8(3) in favor of Vanderbilt as the team of Gonzales Austin and Suresh Eswaran upset the No. 39-ranked pair of Garrett Brasseaux and Nathan Pasha at No. 2 to clinch it for VU.
But the Bulldogs responded in singles, winning all six opening sets before pulling even at 1-1 with a 6-2, 6-4 win for Brasseaux over Johnson at No. 6. Georgia then took its first lead of the day as SEC Freshman of the Week and No. 71-ranked Wagland posted a 6-3, 6-2 win over 54th-ranked Austin at No. 2. But Vanderbilt answered back with a come-from-behind 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 win for 19th-ranked Lipman over Singh at No. 1 to tie the team score at 2-2.
Georgia then surged back in front at 3-2 with a 7-5, 6-0 win for Pasha over Offerdahl at No. 3, and the freshman Smith provided the clincher with a 6-3, 6-4 win over van der Merwe at No. 4, making it 4-2.
The final match was suspended with Pieters down 3-1 in the second set to Yee.
“This was a very gutsy effort from our guys,” said head coach Manuel Diaz. “We really got outplayed in doubles and played below par. We had our opportunities to win but Vandy raised its game at the right time and certainly deserved the point. I was encouraged by the way our guys fought back. This is a big win on the road, which is always tough. Now we need to get some rest and prepare for another big challenge on Sunday.”
“In a conference as deep as ours, you’re really running a race against yourself,” Diaz said. “Kentucky is going to come out determined. I don’t know that today’s [loss] really popped their balloon too much – they’re still one of the best four or five teams in the country and we will need to come out and play better doubles than we did today.”
The Bulldogs will head to face the No. 4 Wildcats for a 1 p.m. meeting at the Boone Tennis Complex in Lexington Sunday. Live scoring will be available on Georgiadogs.com.
#6 Georgia 4, #13 Vanderbilt 2
1. #19 Ryan Lipman (VU) def. #7 KU Singh (UG) 1-6, 6-3, 6-2
2. #71 Ben Wagland (UG) def. #54 Gonzales Austin (VU) 6-3, 6-2
3. #39 Nathan Pasha (UG) def. Jeff Offerdahl (VU) 7-5, 6-0
4. Austin Smith (UG) def. Marc van der Merwe (VU) 6-3, 6-4
5. Kris Yee (VU) vs. #101 Hernus Pieters (UG) 6-7 (2-7), 3-1, unfinished
6. Garrett Brasseaux (UG) def. Rhys Johnson (VU) 6-2, 6-4
1. #5 Hernus Pieters/Ben Wagland (UG) def. Ryan Lipman/Marc van der Merwe (VU) 8-4
2. Gonzales Austin/Suresh Eswaran (VU) def. #39 Nathan Pasha/Garrett Brasseaux (UG) 9-8 (7-3)
3. Rhys Johnson/Jeff Offerdahl (VU) def. KU Singh/Austin Smith (UG) 9-8 (7-5)
Georgia 13-4, 5-1; National ranking #6
Vanderbilt 13-5, 4-2; National ranking #13
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (6,2,1,3,4)
Official: Carole Cox T-3:02