The Tech Yellow Jackets men’s tennis team sent freshmen Carlos Benito and Cole Fiegel as well as sophomore Nathan Rakitt to compete last weekend in the USTA Clay Court Invitational, which took place at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex. All three players were entered into the singles field of 64, and Rakitt and Fiegel also formed a team for the 32 team doubles bracket.
Benito, a freshman from Madrid, Spain, was the only Jacket to advance out of the first round of the singles bracket on Thursday. He defeated South Alabama’s Manuel Beida, 7-6 (9-7), 7-5. Benito barely eked out the first set in the tiebreaker, and it was a back and forth match all the way. Fiegel and Rakitt were not as successful and neither managed to advance past the round of 64.
Cole Fiegel lost to Florida State’s Cristian Gonzalez despite winning the first set. Fiegel had trouble holding serve and Gonzalez was able to finish off the match 6-4, 2-6, 3-6. Nathan Rakitt lost in a nailbiter to Tulsa’s Carlos Bautista 4-6, 6-7 (6-8). Bautista claimed the first set, but Rakitt battled back to force a tiebreaker in the second set that he narrowly lost.
In the round of 32, Benito faced off against the tournament’s fourth seed Florent Diep from the University of Florida who is ranked No. 52 nationally. Diep took the match, 6-3, 6-4, but Benito kept his composure and remained competitive throughout the match. Meanwhile, both Fiegel and Rakitt managed to win their first matches in the consolation bracket with Rakitt winning handily in straight sets.
On the doubles side, hopes were high as Rakitt and Fiegel entered the draw as a top-8 seed. Unfortunately, they were upset in the first round 8-6 in a loss to Kenny Sabacinski and Nico Montoya of Notre Dame.
The Jackets then entered Saturday with all competitors in the consolation bracket. The team managed to shake off the rough start to the tournament and finish strong, winning all three of their singles matches along with their doubles match to go 4-0 on the day. Rakitt easily took care of Tennessee’s Sunay Bhat in straight sets, 6-3, 6-0, and Cole Fiegel hung on to beat Tulsa’s Dylan McCloskey, 6-1, 3-6, 1-0 (10-8).
Playing his first match in the consolation bracket, Benito bested Michael Rinaldi of Florida State, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5). All three Jackets bolstered their records to a respectable 2-1 for the trip, although each would have liked to have gone farther in the tournament. The doubles team bounced back to even their record for the weekend by beating Florida State’s Grayson Golding and Michael Rinaldi, coming fresh off his singles loss to Benito.
The Jackets men’s tennis will be back in action next weekend from Nov. 8-10 as they will compete in the Bulldog Scramble in Athens, Ga.