Tennis teams continue play vs. ACC, SEC opponents

The men’s and women’s tennis teams continued play over spring break. The men’s team took down North Carolina State, Wake Forest and Clemson from March 27-31, while the women’s team won three out of five matches, including a victory over No. 12 Georgia on March 20.

The men’s squad, ranked No. 29 in the nation, ended a 12-day layoff with a trip to Winston-Salem, N.C. to face No. 26 Wake on March 27. The contest was a close, back-and-forth battle that came down to the final match, ultimately ending in a 4-3 victory for the Jackets.

Tech’s top doubles pair of sophomore Kevin King and freshman Juan Spir went down 9-7 against the Deacons’ No. 16 tandem of Iain Atkinson and Steven Forman. The Jackets took the other two doubles matches, though, with juniors Eliot Potvin and Ryan Smith winning the second flight and juniors Guillermo Gomez and Dean O’Brien taking the third to win the point.

Wake bounced back by taking the first three singles matches to finish. Danny Kreyman took down Tech freshman Magin Ortiga 6-3, 6-2 on court five, and Atkinson defeated junior Miguel Muguruza 6-2, 7-5. Court three saw a close battle, but Wake’s Jonathan Wolff held off Potvin for a 7-5, 7-6 victory.

Tech needed three wins in the final three matches, and they came through. The unranked King dropped the first set to No. 29 Tripper Carlton but rebounded to win the match 2-6, 6-0, 7-5. Spir then finished his straight-set victory over Zach Leslie 6-2, 7-5 to tie the match.

It came down to the court one match, and in a highly contested battle, No. 5 Gomez defeated No. 56 Forman 7-6, 6-7, 7-5.

Tech faced another tough opponent the following day but won big against No. 46 N.C. State on March 28. King and Spir cruised on court one in doubles play, as did Potvin and Smith on court two as Tech took the point. The only Tech player to lose in singles play was Gomez. The junior lost his court one match to Jaime Pulgar 6-4, 6-4. King, Potvin, Muguruza, Ortiga and Spir each won their matches, but King and Muguruza needed a third set and Ortiga won on a superset tiebreaker. Still, Tech took the contest 6-1.

Tech then returned home for a Wednesday matchup with No. 43 Clemson and cruised to a 7-0 sweep, improving to 4-1 in ACC play to date.

Each of the three doubles pairs won, though Clemson’s pairs won at least five games in each matchup. In singles play, Gomez, Muguruza and Spir won in straight sets while King and Potvin held off their opponents in three sets. Ortiga won the last match to finish when his opponent, Juan Bolona, retired in the third set.

The No. 36 women’s team, meanwhile, won the March 20 rivalry battle with No. 12 Georgia 5-2 at the Bill Moore Tennis Center. Tech took the doubles point, winning two of the three matches. The tandem of sophomores Irina Falconi and Lynn Blau won on court two, and freshman Elizabeth Kilborn and junior Viet Ha Ngo swept their match 8-0 on court three.

The highlight of singles play was the first-flight match between No. 1 Falconi and No. 13 Chelsey Gullickson of UGA. Falconi held off Gullickson to win a close first set, then swept the second for a 7-5, 6-0 victory.

Falconi’s win followed a clean 6-0, 6-0 win by Kilborn on court six over Kelly Jordan. Ahead 3-0, the Jackets clinched the match when sophomore Hillary Davis won 6-3, 6-2 over Lara Fakhoury.

Ngo went on to win her match against Naoka Ueshima in straight sets, while Blau fell in three sets and junior Sasha Krupina lost in a superset tiebreaker on court two.

Tech recorded another home victory over a highly ranked SEC squad the following day, taking down No. 17 Vanderbilt 4-3.

Tech fell into an early hole as the Commodores won the doubles point. Blau and Falconi won the second-flight match easily, 8-2, but Vanderbilt took the other two matches to secure the point.

The match went back and forth in singles play, as the matches ended in the same order as the courts. Falconi’s court one match went quickly, as the sophomore won 6-2, 6-1 over No. 38 Catherine Newman. Losses by Krupina and Blau and a victory by Ngo put Tech down 3-2 and in need of victories in the final two flights.

Kilborn had little trouble securing the tie, winning 6-2, 6-4 over Erica Robertson. The contest came down to the court six battle between Davis and Hannah Blatt; Davis dropped the first set but bounced back to win the last two handily and took the match 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, giving Tech the win on the day.

The women’s team resumed ACC play afterward with a trip to Coral Gables, Fla. to face Miami. Tech had risen to No. 13 in the rankings but stumbled against the No. 11 Hurricanes, losing 5-2.

Miami won the doubles point, winning the top two matches despite a victory by Ngo and Kilborn on court three. No. 86 Krupina and Ngo, each facing a ranked opponent, went down in straight sets. Blau won on court four 6-4, 6-1, but Davis’s loss clinched the win for Miami.

With the match decided, the focus turned to the battle of top-10 players on court one. Falconi defended her top overall ranking by defeating No. 7 Lauren Vallverdu of Miami 6-4, 6-4. Kilborn’s loss in a third-set tiebreaker concluded the match.

A return home three days later did not help Tech’s ACC woes, as No. 62 Wake Forest upset the Jackets at home on March 27.

Despite dropping the doubles point and forfeiting the court six singles match, Tech reeled off three singles victories thanks to Falconi, Blau and Kilborn to pull within reach of a win. It was not to be, though, as Krupina went down and Ngo came up just short in a lengthy battle against Kathryn Talbert.

The Jackets finally secured their first ACC victory by defeating N.C. State a day later. Tech won the doubles point, led by the No. 32 tandem of Falconi and Krupina, and Falconi, Ngo and Kilborn won in straight sets in singles play to secure the win.