A return home for the first time in three weeks proved beneficial for the No. 21 Tech men’s tennis team. Playing matches at the Bill Moore Tennis Center for the first time since mid-January, Tech took down No. 34 Mississippi State 4-0 on Saturday, Feb. 5 and swept in-state foe Georgia State 7-0 on Wednesday, Feb. 9.
With the wins, Tech improved to 5-1 overall during the spring season. The Jackets also remained perfect at home; since the semester began Tech’s players have not lost a single match in either singles or doubles play in three home contests. However, Tech had lost one of its two matches as part of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend a week earlier, and the Jackets were looking to bounce back in a big way.
Facing a No. 34 Mississippi State team that had played relatively well in early-season matches, the Jackets did not cruise to easy victories in any individual battle but were able to win every match that concluded.
In doubles play, seniors Guillermo Gomez and Dean O’Brien were the first to finish as they defeated MSU’s Malte Stropp and Louis Cant 8-5 on court three. Meanwhile, Tech’s top doubles tandem—sophomore Juan Spir and junior Kevin King, the No. 8 pair in the nation—faced a challenge on court one against George Coupland and James Chaudry. The set ended tied 8-8, and Spir and King were ultimately able to win the tiebreaker 7-5 to win the match and secure the doubles point for Tech. The Jackets completed the doubles sweep as seniors Eliot Potvin and Ryan Smith took their match 8-5 over Artem Llyushin and Zach White.
The Jackets won each of the top three singles matches to take the match. Potvin was the first to finish as he defeated Stropp 7-5, 6-2 on court three. In the top flight, No. 12 Gomez held off Coupland for a straight-set victory, 6-4, 7-5. Spir, ranked No. 48, dropped the first set against Llyushin but bounced back to win the final two sets for a 3-6, 7-6 (10-8), 6-3 victory.
Spir’s comeback gave the Jackets a 4-0 lead for the match, clinching the victory for Tech. As a result, King, Ortiga and O’Brien did not finish their matches and Tech picked up its fourth win of the season.
Four days later, Tech returned to the court for an in-state battle against Georgia State, and for the third straight year the Jackets rolled to a 7-0 sweep over the Eagles.
The Jackets had a relatively easy time winning the doubles point. Gomez and O’Brien picked up a quick 8-2 victory over GSU’s Juan Pablo Gutierrez and Lucas Santana, and Potvin and Smith topped Breon Badger and Vincent Verpeaux 8-3 to clinch the point and give Tech an early lead in the match. King and Spir had a tougher time on court one but still won their match 8-6 over Victor Valente and Thomas Cook.
The three Tech singles players who did not finish their matches against MSU were the first three to finish in this contest. King rolled past Gutierrez 6-1, 6-1 and O’Brien defeated Santana by an identical score. Ortiga’s 6-2, 7-6 win over Verpeaux on court five clinched the match for Tech.
“Last week, they didn’t get to play much,” Thorne said of King, Ortiga and O’Brien. “I wanted them to come out and set the tone for us in singles, and they did.”
The other three matches were played to the finish, and the Jackets took all three. Gomez cruised on court one, defeating Valente 6-1, 6-1. Spir once again dropped the first set but bounced back to win his match against Cook 4-6, 6-4, 1-0. Potvin was the last to finish but still had an easy victory as he cruised 6-0, 6-3 against Gabe Townes.
Following the home wins, the Jackets are on a three-match win streak as they prepare for a battle with No. 11 Georgia on Saturday at the Bill Moore Tennis Center. UGA defeated Tech 5-2 in Athens last season and has a 24-match win streak in the rivalry.