Tech hosted the MLK Invitational, a three day tournament that included Tech, The University of Georgia, Memphis and Ole Miss, at Ken Byers Tennis Center last weekend. The young Tech team went a combined 3-14 in singles for the three matches and 4-5 in doubles.
The Jackets faced Ole Miss on the first day of the tournament, winning two of the six singles matches and two of the three doubles matches. Both of Tech’s singles wins of the day came from two freshmen, Cole Fiegel and Carlos Benito. Fiegel defeated Ole Miss’ Vinod Gowda 6-3, 6-2, and Benito defeated William Kallberg 6-2, 6-4. Tech junior Eduardo Segura and sophomores Nathan Rakitt, Casey Kay and Anish Sharma all lost in straight sets.
“We fought hard and we were close in all the matches. The score overall doesn’t look that good, but we we’re definitely in there. We have some things we need to work on for everybody. It’s still early in the season, but we are going to just keep on improving,” Rakitt said.
“That’s the message [Head Coach] Kenny and [Assistant Coach] Derek have been sending to the whole team. It really doesn’t matter what the score is in the end; we’re all fighting,” Kay said. “I think just about every match came down to a third sets, or a couple deuce points. We are all doing and working on the right things and it will come. It’s important that we learn what we need to do in the beginning of the season so we can improve from here.”
In doubles, the Spaniards, Segura and Benito, teamed up to win a close match over Ole Miss’ pair of Nik Scholtz and Johan Backstrom, 6-5 (11-9). Rakitt and Kay also went to a tiebreaker but fell short 6-5 (8-6). Sharma and Fiegel defeated Vinod Gowda and Zach Wilder 6-2, Fiegel’s second win over Gowda of the day.
The Jackets faced Memphis on the second day of the tournament but were only able to come up with one win, a singles victory by Fiegel who defeated Memphis Ian Chadwell 6-3, 2-6, 6-3. Rakitt, Benito and Segura all fell in three set matches. Sharma lost in straight sets to Meemphis’ David O’Hare 6-3, 6-0.
All three of Tech’s doubles pairs came up short. Segura and Benito fell to O’Hare and Joe Salisbury 6-2. Rakitt and Kay also lost 6-2 to Memphis’ pair Connor Glennon and Cedric DeZutter. Sharma and Fiegel lost 6-1. The Memphis’ doubles teams combined to go 8-1 for the tournament. O’Hare and Salisbury were on the losing end when they faced UGA’s pair of Hernus Pieters and Ben Wagland.
On the third and final day of the tournament, the Jackets would get the chance to face rival UGA. UGA would take the first doubles match—Austin Smith and Nick Wood defeated Sharma and Fiegel 6-2. Segura and Benito would give the Jackets their first victory of the day defeating UGA’s pair of Wagland and Pieters 6-3. Kay, who previously played for the Bulldogs before transferring to Tech this season, paired up with Rakitt to pick up an impressive comeback victory over Nathan Pasha and Garrett Brasseaux 6-5 (8-6).
“It was a little weird, but after you get into it, it’s just another match. You don’t really think about it too much; you just play. But it was definitely good to see everybody,” Kay said.
After picking up two victories in doubles, the Jackets were not as successful in singles. Segura and Kay both lost in straight sets to Wagland and Brasseaux respectively. Fiegel picked up his first singles loss of the spring season, falling to Nick Wood 6-4, 5-6, 6-4.
Benito also lost a close three setter, losing to Pasha 6-3, 5-6, 6-2.
Rakitt was able to win his first set 6-4 against Austin Smith, mainly due to his success serving and volleying, but fell in both the second and third sets 6-2. The Jackets will get another shot at the Bulldogs in February.