Coming off two losses in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, the Tech men’s tennis team dropped their fourth straight match to unranked South Carolina, 5-2 on Saturday, Feb. 4, at Bill Moore Tennis Center. The Jackets then faced two more local nonconference teams, beating Ogelthorpe and Georgia State 7-0 and 6-1, respectively. The matches left the Jackets at 3-4 on the season and seven spots back from their preseason ranking of No. 15 in the nation.
The Jackets started the day dropping all three matches in the doubles portion. The three wins gave the Gamecocks an early 1-0 lead on the day, with Nick Jones and Kyle Koch clinching an overall doubles victory for the Gamecocks in a tense, 8-6 victory over the duo senior Kevin King and freshman Vikram Hundal.
The singles portion of the match started favorably for the Jackets with singles wins by King, who is ranked No. 9 nationally, and junior Juan Spir. King faced Nick Jones, winning in straight sets 6-4, 6-1, while Spir overtook Ivan Machado 7-5, 6-2.
However, Hundal and freshman Colin Edwards could not keep up the success, dropping matches against their opponents Chip Cox and Carl Egues. After taking a 3-2 lead, the Gamecocks finished strong, with Andrew Adams overtaking junior Juan Melian 6-2, 6-0 to clinch the match. South Carolina’s Kyle Koch then overtook freshman Eduardo Segura in three sets, 5-7, 7-5, 1-0 to secure the 5-2 overall win.
“I felt like we started well in singles. The guys came out fighting hard and were executing pretty well. The sustainability of that comes back to how much you truly believe in yourself. We have a couple guys that have some maturing to do,” said Head Coach Kenny Thorne, courtesy of ramblinwreck.com
The performance against the Gamecocks was indicative of Tech’s struggles through the season, as the team had lost 24 of its previous 36 individual matches since sweeping Old Dominion in the season opener.
The Jackets then faced off against Ogelthorpe on Monday, Feb. 6. Tech only dropped nine games on their way to earning a 7-0 win and stopping a four-match losing streak. The Jackets started quickly, winning the doubles point after posting two 8-0 matches by King and Spir at the top spot and Segura and Edwards winning at the third spot.
King, Spir and Hundal then won their matches in straight sets, only dropping one game each to clinch the victory at 4-0. The Jackets coasted through the rest of the day with Melian, Hundal and Edwards also winning their matches in straight sets to win the team match 7-0.
To close out the week, the Jackets faced off against the Panthers of Georgia State on Wednesday, Feb. 8. The Jackets started off quickly again, winning their first three singles matches and clinching the victory early en route to a 6-1 team win.
King and Spir had a hard-fought match in doubles play against their opponents Victor Valente and Matias Hatem, eventually winning in a tiebreak or 9-8 (7-3). However, Melian and Hundal along with Segura and senior Dusan Miljevic stepped up, overtaking their opponents handily and clinching the doubles point before King and Spir had won their match.
Spir, Segura and King then won each of their singles matches in straight sets to take the early 4-0 lead. The Jackets’ only loss on the day came in Miljevic’s match against Matias Hatem, 7-5, 6-0.
King, playing at the No. 1 spot in singles play, improved his overall singles record this season to 20-4, 6-1 this spring.
Melian and freshman Sebastian Lopez won Tech’s fifth and sixth points with straight set victories to close out the day.
The Jackets played a match against William and Mary on Thursday, Feb. 9, prior to the time of press. The Jackets will then hit the road on Tuesday, Feb. 14, in a midweek rivalry matchup against the Georgia Bulldogs.