Men’s tennis shows promise at the Illini Open

The Jackets men’s tennis team traveled down to Fort Myers, Fla. this past weekend to compete in the Illini Open. The Open is an individual round-robin tournament, which featured Tech, Florida, N.C. State, and the host team, Illinois.

On Friday, Day 1 of competition, Tech faced N.C. State in doubles competition and Illinois in singles play. Tech began doubles competition in stellar form, sweeping N.C. State with victories in all four doubles matches. The Jackets were led by the nation’s third-ranked doubles team, senior Juan Spir and sophomore Vikram Hundal, who overwhelmed Dave Thomson and Sean Webber of N.C. State, 8-3.

Tech continued the doubles sweep with a solid victory by freshman Nathan Rakitt and senior Juan Melian, who won their match, 8-5. Sophomore Eduardo Segura and freshman Garrett Gordon prevailed in a close victory, 8-6, and fittingly, freshman Anish Sharma and sophomore Colin Edwards shut-out N.C. State’s Trey Carter & Rafael Paez, 8-0, to complete the Jackets’ shutout of N.C. State in doubles play.

In Friday’s singles competition, Tech picked up two victories against Illinois, as Juan Melian out-fought Stephen Hoh, 6-2, 5-7, 6-3, and Juan Spir charged back from behind early, to overcome Tim Kopinski 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.

Tech’s Eduardo Segura lost after a late comeback by Jared Hiltzik in three sets, 6-2, 6-7, 4-6, and Vikram Hundal fell in a close contest to Illinois’ Bruno Abdelnour, 5-7, 6-3, 3-6. Freshmen Nathan Rakitt and Garrett Gordon both fought hard, but each ultimately fell in straight sets.

On Saturday, Tech battled NC State in singles competition, and Florida in doubles play. The Jackets won exactly half of the day’s matches, splitting with two highquality opponents. In singles, Juan Spir fought back from behind for the second-straight day, to win 6-7, 6-4, 6-3. The Jackets were also led by solid straight-set victories from Juan Melian, Eduardo Segura, and Anish Sharma. Tech freshmen from Marietta, Ga., Nathan Rakitt and Garrett Gordon, both lost close matches, and Gordon took N.C. State’s Simon Norenius to three sets, after a brilliant second set comeback from 4-0 down. Sophomores Vikram Hundal and Colin Edwards also fell against the Wolfpack in singles play.

The teams of Tech’s Vikram Hundal and Juan Spir, and Anish Sharma and Colin Edwards, won close matches and picked up two solid doubles victories against Florida. Tech’s other doubles teams of Eduardo Segura and Garrett Gordon, and Juan Melian and Nathan Rakitt, succumbed to outstanding play by two Florida doubles squads.

On the final day of play, the Jackets challenged Florida in singles, and host Illinois in doubles. Overall, Tech pulled out five strong wins as a unit, including three out of four victories in doubles matches.

Juan Spir and Vikram Hundal finished an impressive weekend with a victory against Alex Jesse and Ferris Gosea of Illinois, 8-4. Tech’s top duo improved to a near perfect 11-1 on the season.

Also in doubles play, Eduardo Segura and Garrett Gordon cruised to a victory, and Anish Sharma and Colin Edwards fought off Illinois to bring Tech’s
doubles wins to three on the day. Juan Melian and Nathan Rakitt dropped a hotly-contested match, in Tech’s only doubles loss.

In singles, Anish Sharma and Juan Melian each shined by earning impressive victories against the 12th ranked Gators. Melian defeated No. 51 Bob van Overbeek in straight sets, while Sharma won a third-set tiebreak to overcome Florida’s Luke Johnson. In the other singles matches, Tech struggled to find victories, but showed poise against top-tier opponents.

The Jackets are back in Atlanta, preparing for Old Dominion and Lipscomb in Friday’s doubleheader, beginning at 1 p.m. Friday marks the start of the spring dual match season, as well as the inaugural men’s matches at the brandnew Ken Byers Tennis Complex.