The third-ranked Georgia men’s tennis team won the doubles point and took a 2-0 lead in the match, but went on to drop a close 4-3 decision to second-ranked and defending NCAA runner-up UCLA on Sunday on the final day of the SEC/Pac-12 Showdown at Marks Tennis Stadium on the campus of USC.
The loss drops UGA to 2-2 on the season following the pair of losses this weekend to the No. 4 Trojans and No. 2 Bruins.
“It was a really close match today,” said head coach Manuel Diaz. “I am really happy with how we fought today. It was just one of those great matches that we’ve had versus UCLA for years and years. Today, they were just one point better than us here and there in those last couple of matches, and that made the difference. Overall, I was very pleased with the way we responded in doubles, and the way we competed overall. The match could have gone either way, and I think we learned a lot this weekend. I’m very encouraged with our team going forward.”
Georgia took the 1-0 lead by claiming the early doubles point with wins on courts two and three. The first win came at No. 2, as Garrett Brasseaux and Nathan Pasha defeated Clay Thompson and Joseph Di Giulio, 6-3. They were followed by Eric Diaz and Austin Smith, who beat Karue Sell and Dennis Mkrtchian by the same score at No. 3 to put the Bulldogs on top heading to singles.
UCLA won four of six first sets in singles, but Georgia won the first completed match at No. 5, as No. 102 Nick Wood posted a 6-5(4), 6-1 win over Mkrtchian to make the lead 2-0. The Bruins cut the Georgia lead to 2-1 as 120th-ranked Gage Brymer beat No. 47 Brasseaux, 6-2, 6-3, at No. 4. The score drew even at 2-2 overall as No. 11 Marcos Giron defeated No. 12 Smith by a score of 6-5(7), 6-3 at No. 1 singles.
But Georgia went back on top at 3-2 and in need of just one more point following 21st-ranked Pasha’s 6-5(3), 6-5(5) win over No. 62 Mackenzie McDonald at No. 3. That left just lines two and six on court, with Ben Wagland trying to force a third set and Hernus Pieters headed to his third set for the Bulldogs.
No. 48 Wagland would drop his match in straight sets, falling 6-4, 6-5(4) to top-ranked Thompson at No. 2 to bring the team match even at 3-3 and just No. 6 singles left to play. There, Pieters and Di Giulio traded early breaks in the third set, but it was Di Giulio who was able to pull away late, snagging the 6-0, 5-6(7), 6-4 win over Pieters to seal it for the Bruins, with the team match going 4-3 in favor of UCLA.
The Bulldogs return home to host East Tennessee State in dual match action on Thurs., Feb. 6 at 3:30 p.m. at the Lindsey Hopkins Indoor Facility. Live scoring and the Georgia Tennis Live Chat will be available.
#2 UCLA 4, #3 Georgia 3
1. #11 Marcos Giron (UCLA) def. #12 Austin Smith (UGA) 6-5 (9-7), 6-3
2. #1 Clay Thompson (UCLA) def. #48 Ben Wagland (UGA) 6-4, 6-5 (7-4)
3. #21 Nathan Pasha (UGA) def. #62 Mackenzie McDonald (UCLA) 6-5 (7-3), 6-5 (7-5)
4. #120 Gage Brymer (UCLA) def. #47 Garrett Brasseaux (UGA) 6-2, 6-3
5. #102 Nick Wood (UGA) def. Dennis Mkrtchian (UCLA) 6-5 (7-4), 6-1
6. Joseph Di Giulio (UCLA) def. Hernus Pieters (UGA) 6-0, 5-6 (7-9), 6-4
1. #10 Marcos Giron/Mackenzie McDonald (UCLA) vs. #12 Ben Wagland/Hernus Pieters (UGA) 5-4, unfinished
2. Garrett Brasseaux/Nathan Pasha (UGA) def. Clay Thompson/Joseph Di Giulio (UCLA) 6-3
3. Eric Diaz/Austin Smith (UGA) def. Karue Sell/Dennis Mkrtchian (UCLA) 6-3
Georgia 2-2; National ranking #3
UCLA 5-0; National ranking #2
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3); Singles (5,4,1,3,2,6)