Despite taking an early lead in their match against No. 25 Wake Forest, Tech was unable to close out the deal, losing to the Demon Deacons by the score of 4-2 on a soggy Friday afternoon at the Bill Moore Tennis Center. They recovered two days later, though, taking down North Carolina State 6-1 in another home matchup.
Against Wake Forest, sophomore Doug Kenny and freshman Kevin King showed good discipline in their return games as they were able to win an early break point against the hard-serving tandem of Carlos Salmon and Iain Atkinson. Kenny and King did not look back after their strong start, winning the doubles set 8-5 to give Tech an early edge.
Tech’s success would continue in doubles play. After battling back from being a break down in their own doubles set, Tech’s lone junior on the team, Austin Roebuck, and sophomore Eliot Potvin tied the set at eight games apiece against Wake’s Jonathan Wolff and David Hopkins, forcing a tiebreak. The team represented Tech well as they fought hard to win the tiebreak and get the victory 9-8 (7-5). The pair of victories gave the Jackets the doubles point, even though the team’s top pair of sophomores Guillermo Gomez and Ryan Smith fell 8-6 in a hard-fought battle.
“We started with different partners [earlier in the season], but finally we got our teams right. We work on our doubles. Kenny [Thorne] makes [us do] a lot of exercises, a lot of drills. How to move in the court, that’s the main thing that makes us win,” Gomez said.
Tech was unable to sustain the early success in singles play, though. Wake came back strong, with their top player, No. 26 Cody Parr, defeating Gomez at the number one singles spot to even the score at 1-1.
“Today wasn’t a good day at all. . . . I tried to fight, but things weren’t working right. I was tired mentally and physically,” said Gomez.
Wake was then able to get the upper hand when Steven Forman defeated sophomore Miguel Muguruza in straight sets by the score 6-4, 6-4. The Demon Deacons were able to build on this momentum and gain a two point advantage soon afterward, as the Deacons’ Wolff held off a strong effort by King, who fell by a score of 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 to give Wake a 3-1 lead in the match.
Wake Forest only needed one more point to take the team match, but Tech was not going to give in so soon. Eliot Potvin, playing in the number four singles spot, earned Tech’s first singles victory when he defeated Hopkins 6-3, 6-4. It was yet another close match, but Potvin’s smooth ground strokes led him to victory in the end.
Unfortunately, Tech’s luck would not last. Freshman Dusan Miljevic lost to Atkinson 6-2, 6-2 in the number five singles spot to give Wake the victory. The rain ultimately cut the match short; after causing a 19-minute delay during doubles play, it caused sophomore Ryan Smith to have his match against Jason Morgenstern suspended and then cancelled. The result was a 4-2 victory for the Deacons.
Tech rebounded quickly, though, as they took to their home court two days later to defeat No. 38 North Carolina State on Sunday by the score of 6-1. The doubles point came first for Tech, as they prevailed in doubles play 2-1 with an 8-5 win by Gomez and Smith at the number one spot and an 8-1 win by Potvin and Roebuck at the number three spot.
N.C. State got back in the match quickly in singles play, tying the score at 1-1 when No. 65 Jay Weinacker defeated Gomez 6-4, 6-1, but they were unable to win another point as Tech rattled off five straight wins in the rest of their singles matches. Smith, King, Muguruza, and Potvin all won their matches in straight sets, and the day ended with Roebuck taking down David Chermak 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 1-0 (10-7).
The young Jackets, who only have one junior on the team and no seniors, have showed signs of progressing as they continue to fight hard and play as a team. “There’s not that much experience on the team…If we get a couple of recruits that’s going to be a very strong team since we are not losing guys, we are just adding [guys],” said Gomez.
Tech has only four matches left on its regular season schedule. This weekend, they will travel up the coast to face off against Maryland and Boston College, and next week they will take on Duke and North Carolina at home.