The UGA men’s tennis duo of Robert Loeb and Jan Zielinski have advanced to the semifinals of the NCAA Doubles Championships after defeating Charlie Emhardt and Jeffrey Schorsch of Valparaiso 11-9 on Saturday in the Quarterfinals match at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
R. Loeb and J. Zielinski, the tournament’s top seed, defeated No. 41 C. Emhardt and J. Schorsch, 6-3, 5-7, 1-0 (9). Zielinski served on match point, with the Bulldogs leading the tiebreaker, 11-9, and Valparaiso was unable to put the ball back in play and keep the match alive. Next up for dynamic Bulldog duo is the TCU pair of Jerry Lopez and Reese Stadler, ranked No. 25, who they will play on Sunday, with the first serve set for 3:00 p.m.
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“I just wanted to make the first serve [on match point],” Zielinski said following the match. “They had missed a lot of returns of my first serve, and it was just a matter of putting pressure on him, trying to make him hit a good passing shot off the return. We were great on our first serves.”
Georgia has now made 11 appearances all-time in the semifinals of the doubles tournament, while Loeb and Zielinski are the ninth different pair to reach the penultimate round. The most recent pair to make the semifinals was John Isner and Antonio Ruiz in 2005, who went on to win the title.
Georgia was serving down 2-1 in the first set and fell behind in the game, 15-40. Loeb and Zielinski won the next three points to hold and then broke Valparaiso’s serve in the following game to take a 3-2 lead. After a few more holds, Georgia got another break to take the set, 6-3. On set point, Loeb lobbed two balls back that were nearly out of reach and the Bulldogs went on to take the point.
Valparaiso went up a break in the second set to make it 3-2, but Georgia was able to get the break back in the following game to even it at 3-3. The break allowed by Loeb and Zielinski was the first since the opening game of their first match of the tournament, snapping a streak of 27 consecutive service games without giving up a break.
With the second set tied 5-5, the Crusader duo got a break and held serve in the next game to force the match tiebreaker. Valparaiso took a 7-6 lead after a point on which Georgia served, and would serve the next two points. The Crusaders won the first, but on the second of the two, the Bulldogs got it back on serve and got the deficit back to one. The next mini-break came when Georgia made it 10-9 following the changeover, and Zielinski’s serve on match point ended the back-and-forth tiebreaker.
Zielinski, who now has 37 doubles wins on the year, has tied Ben Wagland (2012-13 season) for fourth-most in a single season in school history. Loeb is not far behind with 33, and is tied with two others for 15th.