Georgia senior and 35th-ranked Austin Smith put the finishing touches on his team’s impressive showing in singles competition, delivering a three-set, match-clinching victory at the No. 1 singles court on Friday. The resilient Bulldogs took down No. 10 Texas A&M, 4-1, at the Mitchell Tennis Center to win their ninth-straight match of the season.
The victory not only extends Georgia’s current win streak, but it also keeps the Bulldogs’ perfect 7-0 SEC record intact as the squad improves to 13-3 overall. Texas A&M falls to 20-7 overall and 5-3 in league play.
“This was a statement win for our team tonight,” head coach Manuel Diaz said. “We just played light outs and our guys showed a lot of fight, composure and maturity to get the win. We are a team that is growing up real fast at this point in the season, and I could not be more proud of this group of guys.”
Georgia showed resiliency all night, beginning with a doubles defeat that gave the Aggies an early 1-0 lead. The Bulldogs took two 6-4 losses at the second and third courts — both defeats breaking a string of six-straight wins for the duo of Paul Oosterbaan and Jan Zielinski as well as the Bulldog tandem of Wayne Montgomery and Emil Reinberg.
“We had to battle through some tough conditions and that showed in doubles,” Diaz added. “Our guys were locked in all day though, and I had a great feeling about how we would respond. We just kept playing and were able to pull out a victory against a very good Texas A&M team.”
Down 1-0, Georgia turned its attention to the singles courts, where they would be faced with the challenge of three ranked opponents at the top three courts. The Bulldogs got off to a strong start, taking first-set victories at five of the six courts after falling behind in a few sets.
Freshman Walker Duncan delivered Georgia’s first win of the night as he jumped out to a 4-2 lead in the second-set tiebreaker and held off 90th-ranked Jordan Arconado, 6-1, 7-6 (6) to even up the match at 1-1. Bulldog sophomore and 34th-ranked Montgomery then put the Bulldogs up 2-1 with a 6-4, 6-3 victory against A&M’s 45th-ranked Shane Vinsant at the No. 2 singles position.
With a 2-1 lead, Bulldog freshman Zielinski powered back after a second-set loss to take down Texas A&M’s AJ Catanzariti, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2, which extended the Georgia advantage to 3-1 and give the Warsaw, Poland native his sixth consecutive triumph of the season.
Needing just one win to take the match, Smith delivered for the Bulldogs as he battled back from a first-set loss to take down A&M’s 18th-ranked Arthur Rinderknech, 2-6, 7-5, 6-2.
All other matches were suspended at that time with UGA’s Oosterbaan and Wood each in the third set.
The Bulldogs now trek to Baton Rouge, La., to face No. 44 LSU at 12:30 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m. CT on Sunday.
Tennis Match Results
#7 Georgia 4, #10 Texas A&M 1
1. #35 Austin Smith (UGA) def. #18 Arthur Rinderknech (TAMU) 2-6, 7-5, 6-2
2. #34 Wayne Montgomery (UGA) def. #45 Shane Vinsant (TAMU) 6-4, 6-3
3. #120 Walker Duncan (UGA) def. #90 Jordi Arconada (TAMU) 6-1, 7-6 (8-6)
4. Jackson Withrow (TAMU) vs. Paul Oosterbaan (UGA) 5-7, 6-4, 2-4, unfinished
5. Jan Zielinski (UGA) def. AJ Catanzariti (TAMU) 6-4, 2-6, 6-2
6. Max Lunkin (TAMU) vs. Nick Wood (UGA) 6-7 (2-7), 7-5, 0-0, unfinished
1. Jackson Withrow/Aleksandre Bakshi (TAMU) vs. #5 Austin Smith/Ben Wagland (UGA) 4-4, unfinished
2. Shane Vinsant/Harrison Adams (TAMU) def. #58 Paul Oosterbaan/Jan Zielinski (UGA) 6-4
3. Max Lunkin/Arthur Rinderknech (TAMU) def. Wayne Montgomery/Emil Reinberg (UGA) 6-4
Georgia 13-3, 7-0; National ranking #7
Texas A&M 20-7, 5-3; National ranking #10
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2); Singles (3,2,5,1)
Time – 2:45 Attendance – 531