The No. 19 ranked men’s tennis team hosted the ITA Kick-Off Weekend for the first time in school history this past weekend, playing host to three other ranked teams in Auburn, Illinois, and North Carolina.
The Jackets met the No. 20 ranked Auburn Tigers on Sunday, while the No. 18 ranked Tar Heels faced the No. 15 ranked Illini on Sunday, Jan. 29. The winners of the two matches met on Monday, with the winner of that match advancing to the ITA National Indoor Team Championships.
The losers played a consolation match on Monday as well. The Jackets lost both of their matches, falling to Auburn 4-1 on Sunday and Illinois 4-3 on Monday.
Senior Kevin King and junior Juan Spir, the second-ranked doubles pair in the country, gave the team an early lead with an 8-3 win over Auburn’s Alex Stamchev and Daniel Cochran. However, that would prove to be the Jackets’ only doubles victory as the Tigers’ Andreas Mies and Lukas Ollert beat junior Juan Melian Puigventos and freshman Vikram Hundal, 8-6 and Dennis Lengsfeld and Lucas Lopasso defeated senior Dusan Miljevic and freshman Eduardo Segura Mandarino, 8-5 to take the doubles point.
King, who is also the nation’s No. 9 singles player, won the first singles match of the afternoon, besting No. 18 Andreas Mies in straight-sets, 6-3, 6-3. But Auburn responded, overcoming an early deficit by winning each of its remaining matches in straight-set fashion. Auburn’s Ollert defeated Hundal 6-3, 6-1, as Stamchev beat Spir 6-2, 6-4. Lengsfled eked out a win in a tight match with Miljevic, 6-4, 7-5, to seal the 4-1 victory for the Tigers.
The loss to Auburn meant that the Jackets would square off with the Illini in the third place consolation match. This match was a closer one for Tech compared to the previous day, but the Jackets still fell short, 4-3. This was the third straight loss to a ranked team for the Jackets, whose record now sits at 1-3.
Tech earned the doubles point in a sweep, as King and Spir defeated Illinois’ Dennis Nevolo and Farris Gosea 9-8 (7-3), while Melian and Hundal beat Tim Kopinski and Ross Guignon 8-5. The third doubles match was a close one between Miljevic and Segura and Illinois’ Bruno Abdelnour and Roy Kalmanovich, but was left unfinished at 8-8 as the Jackets had already clinched the point for doubles play.
The Jackets could not find similar success in the singles matches, as they lost their first three to fall behind the Illini 3-1. Each of these losses was in straight sets, as Hundal lost 6-0, 6-2 to Gosea, Miljevic dropped a 6-1, 6-1 decision to Kopinski and Segura could not keep up with Illinois’ Guignon, falling 6-1, 6-1.
The Jackets mounted a small comeback after that, tying the match at 3-3 with a 6-1,6-4 victory by Spir over Kalmanovich and a 7-5, 6-1 win over Abdelnoir by Melian. However, it would prove to be too little as Nevolo, the second-ranked singles player in the nation, bested King in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4 to earn the victory for his team. The loss was King’s first of the spring season.
The Jackets will be back in action on Saturday, Feb. 4, when they host South Carolina.