OXFORD, Miss. --- The top-seeded Georgia men’s tennis team got a third-set tiebreak victory from freshman Ben Wagland to lift Georgia to a 4-3 win over fourth-seeded and 12th-ranked Texas A&M Saturday in the semifinals of the SEC Championships at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center. The win moves the Bulldogs (21-4) into tomorrow’s final against second-seeded Tennessee set for 2 p.m. ET.
The Bulldogs will aim to sweep the SEC regular season and tournament titles for the seventh time in history and first since 2007.
“It was a very tough win,” said head coach Manuel Diaz. “I thought they outplayed us and there were times I thought they were going to pull it out. Having said that, our guys fought hard and didn’t give up. We did what it took to win matches and found a way to get it done.”
Georgia won the doubles point to take an early 1-0 lead in the match. The Bulldogs got their first win of the day with an 8-3 win for Garrett Brasseaux and Nathan Pasha over 27th-ranked Harry Adams and Shane Vinsant at No. 2. The sixth-ranked team of Wagland and Hernus Pieters then posted an 8-3 win over No. 17 Ore and Jackson Withrow to seal the all-important point.
The Bulldogs would go on to win four first sets in singles to two for Texas A&M, but the Aggies rallied to force third sets on three of those courts. Georgia took a 2-0 lead with a 6-1, 6-4 win for freshman Austin Smith over Jordan Szabo at No. 5, but Texas A&M cut it to 2-1 as 81st-ranked Vinsant defeated Pieters 6-3, 6-1 at No. 4. It drew even at 2-2 as 26th-ranked Jeremy Efferding bested No. 6 KU Singh 2-6, 6-1, 7-5 at the top spot, and Texas A&M took its first lead of the day at 3-2 as No. 120 Harry Adams posted a 7-5, 6-4 win over Pasha at No. 3.
That left just Wagland and Brasseaux on court for Georgia, and the junior would turn in a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 win over Behzad Minavi at No. 6 to tie it again at 3-3. Meanwhile, Wagland was already in the third-set tiebreaker with Ore on court two to decide it and the rookie delivered, securing the 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(6), win to give Georgia the 4-3 victory and the place in the final. It was the team-high seventh clinch for Wagland.
Georgia is now on a 12-match winning streak, its longest since 2011, and has won 16 of its last 17 matches. The Bulldogs are gunning for their league-leading ninth SEC Tournament crown and second in a row. It will mark the team’s 15th appearance in the final in 24 tries.
The Bulldogs and Volunteers will square off in tomorrow’s title match at 2 p.m. ET. Live scoring and the Georgia Tennis Live Chat will be available on Georgiadogs.com.
#2 Georgia 4, #12 Texas A&M 3
1. #26 Jeremy Efferding (TAMU) def. #6 KU Singh (UG) 2-6, 6-1, 7-5
2. #53 Ben Wagland (UG) def. Junior Ore (TAMU) 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (8-6)
3. #120 Harry Adams (TAMU) def. #46 Nathan Pasha (UG) 7-5, 6-4
4. #81 Shane Vinsant (TAMU) def. #125 Hernus Pieters (UG) 6-3, 6-1
5. Austin Smith (UG) def. Jordan Szabo (TAMU) 6-1, 6-4
6. Garrett Brasseaux (UG) def. Behzad Minavi (TAMU) 6-3, 4-6, 6-4
1. #6 Hernus Pieters/Ben Wagland (UG) def. #7 Junior Ore/Jackson Withrow (TAMU) 8-3
2. #23 Nathan Pasha/Garrett Brasseaux (UG) def. #27 Harry Adams/Shane Vinsant (TAMU) 8-3
3. Marco Nunez/KU Singh (UG) vs. Jeremy Efferding/Jordan Szabo (TAMU) 3-6, unfinished
Texas A&M 17-11; National ranking #12
Georgia 21-4; National ranking #2
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1); Singles (5,4,1,3,6,2)