Tech Tennis finishes out 2021 season at NCAAs

The women’s tennis team huddles for a photo at the NCAA team championships. The team fell to UCLA in the round of 16, and multiple singles and doubles players competed in the individual finals. // Photo courtesy of GTAA

GT Tennis finishes out 2021 season at NCAA Championships.

Following a strong season, Tech’s tennis teams looked for more at the NCAA Championships in Orlando, Florida. Both the women’s and men’s teams qualified for this year’s tournament, but neither moved past the round of 16.

The 11th-ranked women’s tennis team secured their spot in the NCAA round of 16 after regional victories against Georgia Southern and North Florida earlier this month. The team fell to fourth-ranked UCLA, ending their season with an impressive 20-11 record overall.

As for the individual tournament, Tech’s women’s team had two singles players and two doubles teams receive bids for the NCAA Championship. This included the third-ranked doubles team of Kenya Jones and Victoria Flores, as well as 16th-ranked Gia Cohen and Ava Hrastar.

Jones and Flores, receiving All-ACC honors at the end of April for their stellar seasons, also competed in the singles bracket. Jones led the Jackets this season with an overall record of 17-8 in singles play, climbing as high as a number two ranking. Both Jones and Flores fell in the round of 64 in straight set decisions to Selin Ovunc of Auburn and Kari Miller of Michigan, respectively.

Tech’s women’s doubles teams suffered similar fates on the opening day of doubles, with both doubles’ teams falling in the round of 32. Tech’s team of Cohen and Hrastar dropped their match against fourth-ranked Makenna Jones and Elizabeth Scotty of UNC. After Tech edged them in the first set, the UNC pair took the match into a tiebreak and barely took away the victory in a hard-fought 14-12 win. This Jones and Scotty pair would eventually win the 2021 women’s doubles championship.

Jackets doubles pair Jones and Flores faced 23rd-ranked Carmen and Ivana Corley of Oklahoma. After Tech grabbed the early lead in the first set, the Sooners pair rallied and took the first set on a tiebreak, then won the second set 6-3 to move on. This marked the end of the season for Tech’s women’s tennis.

Tech’s men’s tennis team faced the University of Memphis in their first-round tilt of the NCAA tournament. This marks the 13th time that Byers Men’s Tennis head coach Kenny Thorne has led the Jackets to the NCAA tournament. Tech fell to Memphis 4-2 in the first round, finishing the season with a 13-10 record overall.

The individual tournament featured Tech redshirt freshmen Marcus McDaniel and Andres Martin, both of whom received All-ACC honors for their contributions this season. McDaniel and Martin earned bids to NCAA singles and doubles championships.

In the singles round of 64, McDaniel dropped his match to South Florida’s Jacob Wojcik, finishing with an 8-4 record overall against ranked opponents this season. Martin defeated Alabama’s Edson Ortiz in a close, three-set battle moving on to the round of 32.

After taking the first set against sixth-ranked Sam Riffice of Florida, Martin dropped the second and third sets, ending his singles bout. Martin ended the season with an 18-9 overall singles record, while Riffice went on to win the 2021 men’s singles championship.

The 19th-ranked doubles pair McDaniel and Martin knocked off 13th-ranked Daniel Rodrigues and Connor Thomson of South Carolina in a swift straight set win. The Jackets moved on to the round of 16 to face Tennessee’s Adam Walton and Pat Harper. The Tech duo narrowly lost the first set on a tiebreak, then lost the second set to end their 2021 season 6-4 as a pairing. The Tennessee pair went on to win the 2021 men’s doubles championship.

Tech’s tennis program saw impressive seasons for both teams, with strong pushes at the end to earn NCAA championship bids. Many of the Jackets’ stars will return for next season, and hope to continue their successes with familiar faces.