By John Anderson
The Bill Moore Tennis Center was standing room only on Friday Feb. 27 as the men’s tennis team lost to archrival No. 3 University of Georgia, 7-0. The score however does not show the true closeness of the match.
The Jackets had a quick start to the day when the tandem of sophomore Doug Kenny and freshman Kevin King, playing in the second doubles spot, got an early break in their doubles match against Christian Vitulli and Josh Varela to take a 6-3 lead in the eight game pro-set. The lead, however, did not last for the Jackets, as Georgia was able to break back to even the set. The set saw three more breaks before the Bulldogs finally prevailed 9-7.
Over on court one, in the No. 1 doubles spot, the breaks were not as easy to come by. Tech’s sophomore Guillermo Gomez and sophomore Ryan Smith were battling with one of the nation’s top-ranked doubles team, Georgia’s Nate Schnugg and Jamie Hunt. The Jackets’ tandem hung toe-to-toe with Georgia, ending the set at eight games apiece and forcing the seven point tiebreaker. It was a fast-paced tiebreaker as both teams attacked the net on their serve, keeping the points short and the fans into the match. Eventually it was Gomez and Smith who prevailed 7-5 with their solid net play and excellent team movement.
The Bulldogs took the third doubles match to win the doubles point and get on the board first with a 1-0 team lead.
Tech would lose the next two points as sophomore Elliot Potvin fell to Javier Garrapiz 6-3, 7-6 (7-2), and King lost to UGA’s Hunt 6-0, 6-1.
No. 12 Gomez took on No. 10 Schnugg. Gomez took the first set fairly quickly by a score of 6-3 over Schnugg, but there was nothing else quick about the match as the players got stuck in long baseline rallies exchanging blistering forehands and trying to break down the other’s backhand. But as darkness began to fall outside the tennis center, Schnugg was able to utilize his almost unbreakable serve to take the second set 7-3 in the tiebreaker and the third set 7-5. Gomez lost only his fifth match of the year.
Despite the score, the matches actually were is the fact close as the Jackets fell victim to six different tiebreakers on the day, with five coming at the crucial latter stage of the matches.
The Bulldogs were able to win the last three points of the team match with Josh Varela defeating sophomore Miguel Muguruza 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 1-0 (10-5), Borja Malo defeating Dusan Miljevic 6-3, 4-6, 1-0 (10-6), and Drake Bernstein defeating Ryan Smith 7-6 (7-5), 6-0.
The Jackets rebounded quickly from the UGA loss with a 4-3 win at Clemson, but fell 5-2 in their following two matches at Miami and at home to Florida State.
Tech had a strong outing when they defeated non-conference foe Tennessee Tech 5-2 at the Bill Moore Tennis Center, but lost a close match at No. 21 Virginia Tech 4-3.
Tech stayed in the state of Virginia for their next match as they took on the No. 1 University of Virginia on Sunday. UVA came into the match undefeated.
Tech was able to keep all three doubles matches competitive early, but lost the point when Gomez and Ryan were defeated by the No. 4 team of Houston Barrick and Sanam Singh 8-6, and King and Kenny lost 8-5 to the No. 13 team of Dominic Inglot and Michael Shabaz 8-5.
The strongest doubles play of the day came from Tech’s sophomore Austin Roebuck and Potvin who tied their set at seven all before losing 9-7 to Drew Courtney and Lee Singer.
Virginia, whose top three players are all ranked in the top 25, showed why they were the No.1 team in the country as they were able to continue to dominate play in the singles matches.
UVA took a 3-0 lead with victories at the number two spot when No. 18 Michael Shabez defeated Muguruza 6-2, 6-2, and No. 23 Sanam Singh defeated Potvin 6-3, 6-1.
Gomez had his shortest match of the season as he was defeated by No. 15 Dominic Inglot 6-3, 6-2.
Encouraging for Tech was the play of both freshmen. Miljevic got Tech’s lone win on the day with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Steven Eelkman Rooda at the number six singles spot. King also fought hard at the four spot but came up short in the final tiebreaker losing 3-6, 7-5, (10-8).
The Jackets return to action today as they host No. 18 ranked Wake Forest at The Bill Moore Tennis Center.