At the end of a long rally in a match full of them. Tyler Zink simply fell to the court. Soon after, he was swarmed by his jubilant Georgia men’s tennis teammates.
Zink’s three-set win over Texas A&M’s Hady Habib at No. 2 singles was the clincher Friday night at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex, lifting the No. 10-ranked Bulldogs’ to a 4-2 win over the eighth-ranked Aggies.
Zink and Habib traded hard-hit groundstrokes throughout their three sets and in the end it was the Georgia sophomore that was fresher and sharper down the stretch, winning 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-1. His win was the Bulldogs’ fourth in singles after Texas A&M captured the doubles point to begin the match.
“I came out playing really well and then he actually picked up his level a little bit so I had to make some changes,” Zink said. “Getting that first set was huge. He made some changes as well and I was happy to come out of the third set with a win.”
The Bulldogs (13-5, 7-4 SEC) have now won straight in SEC play and seven of their last eight overall. They wrap up their regular season on Sunday at LSU.
“Our team’s resiliency and toughness really made the difference today,” Georgia head coach Manuel Diaz said. “That’s what we’ve been preaching the second half of the season, once we got healthy. … Our team has shown tremendous leadership and toughness and that really was the difference today.
“We’re playing better — I don’t think we’re where we want to be yet. Our guys are still hungry and we’re still trying to really continue to improve. I still think we haven’t played our best tennis yet.”
Before the match, Georgia honored its two seniors, Billy Rowe, a graduate transfer in his first year with the Bulldogs, and Alex Diaz, a fifth-year player and the son of Manuel Diaz.
Georgia’s Erik Grevelius and Philip Henning got up a break early against A&M’s Pranav Kumar and Noah Schachter at No. 3 doubles and kept the advantage en route to a 6-4 win. The other doubles matches went to tiebreakers, and the Aggies won bother. At No. 2, Valentin Vacherot and Pierce Rollins edged Billy Rowe and Blake Croyder, 7-6 (7-5). In the deciding match, at No. 1, Juan Carlos Aguilar and Bjorn Thomson pulled out a 7-6 (7-4) win over Zink and Trent Bryde to clinch the doubles point.
Down 1-0 and needed to capture four singles wins, Georgia got off to a very strong start, winning the opening set in five of the six matches. Bryde evened the match with a great performance at No. 1, beating Vacherot 6-3, 6-3. The Aggies (14-6, 6-4) moved back in front, 2-1, with their only singles win, Rollins’ 6-4, 6-2 victory over Rowe at No. 5.
Henning took the first set and recovered from being down a break in the second to win in straight sets at No. 3, beating Aguilar 6-3, 6-4. That tied the match 2-2 and then Croyder stormed through his third set at No. 4 to give Georgia the lead, beating Schachter, 6-4, 2-6, 6-1.
The only remaining matches were Zink’s at No. 2 and Grevelius and Raphael Perot at No. 6, where they were also in a third set. Zink got his first break early in the third set against Habib and then surged to the victory that sparked a big celebration between the team and the spirited crowd inside Henry Feild Stadium.
For more information on the Bulldogs, visit Georgiadogs.com. You can also get updates on the team on Twitter (@UGATennis) and Instagram (@ugatennis).
No. 10 Georgia 4, No. 8 Texas A&M 2
1. Juan Carlos Aguilar/Bjorn Thomson (TAMU) def. Trent Bryde/Tyler Zink (UGA), 7-6 (7-4)
2. Valentin Vacherot/Pierce Rollins (TAMU) def. Billy Rowe/Blake Croyder (UGA), 7-6 (7-5)
3. Philip Henning/Erik Grevelius (UGA) def. Pranav Kumar/Noah Schachter (TAMU), 6-4
1. Trent Bryde (UGA) def. Valentin Vacherot (TAMU), 6-3, 6-3
2. Tyler Zink (UGA) def. Hady Habib (TAMU), 7-6 (7-4, 4-6, 6-1
3. Philip Henning (UGA) def. Juan Carlos Aguilar (TAMU), 6-3, 6-4
4. Blake Croyder (UGA) def. Noah Schachter (TAMU), 6-4, 2-6, 6-1
5. Pierce Rollins (TAMU) def. Billy Rowe (UGA), 6-4, 6-2
6. Erik Grevelius (UGA) vs. Raphael Perot (TAMU), 6-4, 3-6, 5-5 (unfinished)
Order of Finish
Doubles: 3, 2, 1
Singles: 1, 5, 3, 4, 2