Georgia Men Capture SEC Tennis Title
STARKVILLE, Miss. ---
The Georgia men’s tennis team captured its 34th Southeastern Conference
title and eighth tournament crown Sunday, defeating the No. 1 seed and
sixth-ranked Kentucky 4-1 in the finals at Mississippi State’s A.J.
Pitts Tennis Centre in Starkville.
The win moved the Bulldogs to
23-2 on the season and the squad has now won seven matches in a row
heading into next month’s NCAA Tournament. Today marked Georgia’s first
SEC tournament title since 2007 as Georgia went on to win the national
championship later that season in Athens.
Georgia this weekend
registered two wins over top-10 opponents after also knocking off No. 9
Mississippi State in the semifinals yesterday. The Bulldogs were able
to respond after falling 4-3 to Kentucky during the regular season in
Athens, which proved to cost Georgia the regular-season title as UK
finished at 11-0 and UGA 10-1.
“Our previous encounter with
Kentucky was a loss that really hurt,” said head coach Manuel Diaz.
“Our goal was to learn from that day. We felt like we’d had the match
in hand and probably tried too hard. I think today we showed maturity,
and that’s necessary to close out an important match against a very
good team. This was a big moment of growth for us and proved that that
loss was a turning point. It put us in a position to win today because
this time we knew how to handle it. That’s the biggest thing I take
Georgia’s doubles play was again dominant on the
day, as Georgia went up breaks on all courts early on. The Bulldogs won
first on No. 3 doubles as the team of Wil Spencer and KU Singh defeated
Tom Jomby and Anthony Rossi, 8-4. The Bulldogs then picked up the
doubles point with their second win, going 8-4 at No. 2 as Nathan Pasha
and Ignacio Taboada beat 37th-ranked Alex Musialek and Anthony Rossi.
The match at No. 1 went unfinished with Sadio Doumbia and Hernus
Pieters up 7-5 at No. 1 on 12th-ranked Panav Jha and Eric Quigley.
sophomore Pieters completed his stellar weekend with a third victory,
dropping just five games all tournament as he put Georgia up 2-0 with a
6-1, 6-0 win over 112th-ranked Jha at No. 6 singles. Georgia built a
3-0 lead as the freshman Pasha defeated No. 110 Alejandro Gomez, 6-2,
6-2, at No. 5.
But UK would respond to make it 3-1 as third-ranked Quigley won on court No. 1, downing No. 11 Spencer, 6-1, 7-5.
left courts 2, 3, and 4 still on court, with Taboada closest to
finishing as he had a set on Jomby and the second set headed to a
tiebreaker. It was a rematch of that court during the teams’ prior
meeting, when Jomby beat Taboada in a breaker to clinch the match for
Kentucky. But this time Taboada prevailed, claiming the tiebreaker 7-4
to take the match 6-3, 7-6(4) and seal the 4-1 win for the Bulldogs.
means so much,” Taboada said. “I was trying not to think about last
match too much. I thought about it a little bit in the last two points,
but I just tried to play good points. It was a total team effort today.
We played great doubles again. It was unbelievable. I am so happy for
the guys. We are peaking at the right time.”
After the match it
was announced that Pieters and Taboada were named to the All-Tournament
Team, while Taboada was named the Most Valuable Player.
SEC Men's Tennis All-Tournament Team
Hernus Pieters, Georgia
Ignacio Toboada, Georgia
Tom Jomby, Kentucky
Anthony Rossi, Kentucky
Nik Scholtz, Ole Miss
George Coupland, Mississippi State
MVP: Ignacio Toboada, Georgia