The Georgia men’s tennis team was on the road in Lexington for a SEC match on Sunday against No. 15 Kentucky and were victorious against the Wildcats, 4-3. The conference win for the Bulldogs marked their second of the weekend as they also took down No. 30 Vanderbilt in Nashville on Friday.
The Bulldogs (6-5, 2-0 SEC) jumped out to a 1-0 lead after doubles victories on the first and third courts, followed by three wins in the first four singles decisions to take the match. With the loss, the Wildcats fall to 10-5 and are 1-1 in the conference.
“It was a great team performance today,” said Georgia head coach Manuel Diaz. “We came ready to play. We played very solid doubles and did a tremendous job of competing. Our guys at 3, 4 and 5 did a great job of getting us the victory in solid fashion. I was very proud of the way we competed, even in the matches that we did succeed in today. Today was just a total team victory. Any time you go on the road and compete against a very good team like Kentucky, it’s a big win. Kentucky has a fantastic team and I have a lot of respect for them.”
Georgia used the same doubles lineup it used in Friday’s win over No. 30 Vanderbilt, with No. 44 Robert Loeb and Jan Zielinski at the first court, Emil Reinberg and Nathan Ponwith on the second court, and Wayne Montgomery and Walker Duncan on No. 3. Montgomery and Duncan earned a 6-4 win against Kentucky’s Ryotaro Matsumara and Trey Yates, giving the Bulldogs the early doubles advantage. Friday’s match was the first time the two played together in a dual match this season, and Montgomery and Duncan are now 2-0 in doubles.
The doubles point was sealed at No. 1, where Loeb and Zielinski picked up their fourth win in the last five matches with a 6-3 decision over No. 33 Enzo Wallart and Beck Pennington. Georgia’s highest ranked doubles pair has played together at the first court in each match, picking up seven wins. Today was the second time Loeb and Zielinski have defeated a ranked pair this season, with the first coming at National Indoors against No. 21 William Blumberg and Robert Kelly of North Carolina.
Emil Reinberg and Nathan Ponwith were ahead 5-3 on No. 2 before the doubles portion of the match was cut short. Georgia took a 1-0 lead into singles for the seventh time this season and are now 6-1 on the year when winning the doubles point.
The first singles match completed was at No. 5, where Duncan earned a 6-0, 6-4 victory over Yates. Duncan also put the first singles point on the board against Vanderbilt, and is now 12-2 all-time in SEC dual matches. Ponwith, ranked No. 104, earned a straight-sets victory at No. 3, taking down Pennington 6-4, 6-4 to put the Bulldogs ahead 3-0. Shortly after, No. 30 Montgomery fell to 35th-ranked Bushamuka, 6-3, 6-4 at No. 1.
Zielinski delivered the clincher for Georgia on the fourth court, defeating No. 78 Nils Ellefsen in three sets. The 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 win for Zielinski was his second match-clincher of the year. The first came against Purdue during ITA Kick-Off Weekend, a 6-2, 6-1 win against Athell Bennett on No. 5.
The remaining two matches were played out, with Reinberg and Loeb each in a third set at the time Zielinski’s match ended. Loeb dropped his match to Wallart at No. 6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, while 38th-ranked Reinberg dropped a third-set tiebreaker to Matsumura, who is currently ranked No. 21. The 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(5) result made the score 4-3 Georgia.
Georgia will be back in action next weekend with another pair of SEC matches. The Bulldogs will welcome Ole Miss and Arkansas to the Dan Magill Tennis Complex for matches on Friday, March 10 at 2 p.m. and Sunday, March 12 at 1 p.m., respectively.
“We finally get to go home and play our first home SEC match,” Diaz said. “It’s going to feel good to play back at home.”
1. #44 Robert Loeb/Jan Zielinski (UGA) def. #33 Enzo Wallart/Beck Pennington (UK), 6-3
2. Nathan Ponwith/Emil Reinberg (UGA) vs. Will Bushamuka/Nils Ellefsen (UK), 5-3, unfinished
3. Wayne Montgomery/Walker Duncan (UGA) def. Ryotaro Matsumura/Trey Yates (UK), 6-4
1. #35 Will Bushamuka (UK) def. #30 Wayne Montgomery (UGA), 6-3, 6-4
2. #21 Ryotaro Matsumura (UK) def. #38 Emil Reinberg (UGA), 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(5)
3. #104 Nathan Ponwith (UGA) def. Beck Pennington (UK), 6-4, 6-4
4. Jan Zielinski (UGA) def. #78 Nils Ellefsen (UK), 6-1, 5-7, 6-2
5. Walker Duncan (UGA) def. Trey Yates (UK), 6-0, 6-4
6. Enzo Wallart (UK) def. Robert Loeb (UGA), 3-6, 6-2, 6-3
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1); Singles (5,3,1,4,6,2)