The No. 1 seeded and second-ranked Georgia men’s tennis team rolled over second-seeded Tennessee 4-0 Sunday to claim the 2013 SEC Tournament title at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center in Oxford, Miss. The Bulldogs won the doubles point and posted singles victories at Nos. 3, 5, and 6 to complete the shutout and claim the tournament championship for the second year in a row.
Georgia has now won a league-leading nine tournament titles and 36 SEC championships overall. The Bulldogs today defended their regular season conference title to complete the sweep for the seventh time and first since 2007.
“Today was a great performance by our guys,” said head coach Manuel Diaz, who today won his 23rd SEC title in 25 seasons. “We had two 4-3 matches coming into this one and had two long days of competition, so we knew today would be tough. Our guys were tired at the beginning, but they were ready to play. I felt like if we won the doubles point then we would be able to play some of our best tennis. I think we could probably have won at every spot today. We were on top of our game. The guys were playing loose and having fun and that’s conducive to us playing as well as we did.”
During Georgia’s run to the title, the Bulldogs posted wins over No. 11 Kentucky, No. 12 Texas A&M, and No. 7 Tennessee, respectively, in the quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals to improve to 22-4 on the season with a 10-4 record against top-25 teams. Georgia has now won 13 matches in a row and 17 of its last 18.
To start the day, the Bulldogs bounced back from going down breaks on all three doubles courts to snag the early point. First off was the No. 3 team of Marco Nunez and Eric Diaz, posting a 9-7 win over Taylor Patrick and Jarryd Chaplin. Georgia took the 1-0 lead with a tiebreak win for 23rd-ranked Nathan Pasha and Garrett Brasseaux over No. 47 John Collins and Ed Jones at No. 2.
Georgia went on to win five of six first sets in singles and picked up a 2-0 lead over Tennessee as No. 46 Pasha defeated Chaplin by a score of 6-2, 6-4 at No. 3. It increased to 3-0 when Brasseaux beat Patrick 6-4, 6-1 at No. 6, and freshman Austin Smith turned in the clinching decision as he defeated Ed Jones 6-4, 6-0 at No. 4 to give the Bulldogs the convincing 4-0 win for the championship, junior Hernus Pieters was two games away from a win at No. 4.
Ben Wagland and Nathan Pasha were each named to the 2013 Southeastern Conference Championships All-Tournament Team and Wagland was named the Most Valuable Player.
The freshman Wagland went a combined 4-0 on the weekend including a pair of top-10 doubles victories with partner Hernus Pieters as well as a singles victory over 21st-ranked Tom Jomby of Ketucky – who had beaten Wagland twice already this season – and a third-set tiebreak victory over TAMU’s Junior Ore to clinch Georgia’s win over the Aggies and the place in the final. The rookie now stands at 23-7 on the year and 15-4 in dual matches with six ranked singles wins.
Pasha also posted four wins in the tournament, including the clinch vs. Kentucky on Friday in the quarterfinal. He collected ranked doubles wins over the No. 27 pair from Texas A&M and the No. 47 pair from Tennessee, as the sophomore improves to a team-best 29-13 in singles pla
The Bulldogs will next gear up for the NCAA Championships, with first and second round action set for May 10-12 on campus sites to be determined. The University of Illinois will host the round of 16 and beyond in the team tournament as well as the singles and doubles tournament. The NCAA Selection Show is set for Tues., April 30.
1. #6 KU Singh (UG) vs. #3 Mikelis Libietis (UT) 4-6, 4-1, unfinished
2. #53 Ben Wagland (UG) vs. #34 Hunter Reese (UT) 6-3, 1-3, unfinished
3. #46 Nathan Pasha (UG) def. Jarryd Chaplin (UT) 6-2, 6-4
4. #125 Hernus Pieters (UG) vs. John Collins (UT) 6-3, 4-1, unfinished
5. Austin Smith (UG) def. Ed Jones (UT) 6-4, 6-0
6. Garrett Brasseaux (UG) def. Taylor Patrick (UT) 6-4, 6-1
1. #6 Hernus Pieters/Ben Wagland (UG) vs. #3 Mikelis Libietis/Hunter Reese (UT) 7-8, unfinished
2. #23 Nathan Pasha/Garrett Brasseaux (UG) def. #47 John Collins/Ed Jones (UT) 9-8 (7-5)
3. Marco Nunez/Eric Diaz (UG) def. Taylor Patrick/Jarryd Chaplin (UT) 9-7