Tech’s men’s tennis team competed in two home ACC matches over spring break, looking to improve on its already impressive 10-2 record. The team faced off against two foes from North Carolina, Wake Forest and N.C. State. The break proved to be a good one for the Jackets, as they rolled over both opponents, losing only a single match over both competitions. First, the No. 19 ranked Jackets beat the Wolfpack 7-0 on March 25 then put down the Demon Deacons 6-1 on Sunday. The two wins improve the Jackets record to 12-2 (3-1 ACC) and to 9-1 in their last 10.
Last Wednesday’s match against N.C. State turned out to be one of Tech’s strongest of the season, as the Jackets shut out the Wolfpack. Four of Tech’s top players blew through their opponents in straight sets and easily swept the doubles portion.
The most impressive doubles match coming from the No. 11 ranked duo of junior Kevin King and sophomore Juan Spir. The two dispatched their opponent in convincing fashion, winning 8-3. Seniors Eliot Potvin and Ryan Smith also won in dominating fashion, beating N.C. State’s sophomore Dave Thomson and freshman Sean Weber, 8-5. Finally, Tech’s other senior team of Guillermo Gomez and Dean O’Brien put down the Wolfpack’s senior David Chermak and freshman Matt Thomson, 8-5.
The singles portion of last Wednesday’s match was short and sweet, with Tech cruising to six victories in six matches. No. 14- ranked Gomez struggled slightly in his match against N.C. State’s Dominic Hodgson, who took the match to a tiebreak in the first set, but ultimately fell, 7-6 (7-2), 7-5. Spir took down his opponent 6-2, 6-1 to improve on his No. 57 national ranking. King defeated D. Thomson in straight sets as well, letting his opponent down quickly, 6-3, 6-3. In what soon became a pattern Potvin bested his opponent in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2. O’Brien also defeated N.C. State’s Weber in straight sets in a short match, 6-2, 6-3.
By and away the closest and hardest fought match of the day came courtesy of Tech sophomore Magin Ortiga against the Wolfpack’s freshman Ivan Sanchez Gomez. The two dueled for three long sets. Ortiga dropped a tough first set 4-6, then battled back in the second to win 7-5. The match came down to the final set that went into a difficult and tiring tiebreak for both players. Eventually Ortiga was able to secure the win, winning 11-9 towards the end of the day.
Tech’s match against the No. 39 ranked Wake Forest went almost as smoothly, although the Jackets did drop a singles and doubles match on the day. The doubles portion kicked off last Wednesday’s competition, with Potvin and Smith lining up against the Deacon’s senior Jonathan Wolff and sophomore Danny Kreyman. The Tech duo won quickly, letting their opponents down, 8-3.
The second doubles game matched up Gomez and O’Brien against Wake’s sophomores Zach Leslie and Tripper Carleton. The Jacket’s talented senior team slipped slightly, allowing Leslie and Carleton to hang around before ultimately winning the match, 8-6. To round out the doubles play, Tech sent out No. 11 ranked Spir and King to go against a talented pair from Wake Forest, senior Iain Atkinson and junior David Hopkins.
Though the game went to a tiebreak, the Jackets couldn’t pull out a victory heading into singles play, falling 8-7 (7-4).
The singles portion of the day also left Tech with just one loss, against five solid wins. No. 14 ranked Gomez kicked off the singles matches, with a dominating performance against the Demon Deacon’s No. 88 ranked Carleton, 6-3, 6-1. In the following game, No. 57 ranked Spir struggled to get past Wake’s No. 70 ranked Wolff, losing 6-3, 6-3. Though the Jackets had played well to this point, Wake continued to knock at the door and looked to keep the pressure on Tech to have to earn the win.
With the pressure on, O’Brien notched the final victory Tech needed to win the day, dispatching Wake’s Leslie in straight sets, 6-4, 6-1. Even with the win in hand, the Jackets kept pressing to try to better their national ranking of 19. Next up, King took on Atkinson in a very even match that went to tiebreak in the first set, with King winning 7-6 (7-3).
The final set tested both players, but King came out on top, taking the second set 7-5 to give Tech another singles victory. The final two singles matches turned out to be the closest yet. Tech’s Potvin played a drawn out match against the Deacon’s Kreyman, lasting three long sets, with Potvin finally bringing the win home, winning 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.
The last match of the day had Ortiga in another close match against Wake Forest’s Hopkins. In a back and forth match to cap a four-hour long meet, Ortiga dropped the first set, 6-4, but fought back to take the second set 6-2. Ortiga then cruised to victory, winning the third and final set, 6-3 to end the day.
With the two impressive wins in hand, Tech looks to continue their ascent up the national rankings in hopes of passing the likes of ACC foes North Carolina, Duke and the No. 1 ranked Virginia Cavaliers. Tech has seven remaining ACC matches leading up to the NCAA championships in May. The Jackets will play ACC opponents Boston College and Maryland this weekend and are poised to take a share of fourth place or third place outright out.