Feb. 13, 2012
ATLANTA – Riding a three-match winning streak, Georgia Tech’s men’s tennis team faces its fourth top-20 team of the young season when it visits No. 4 and undefeated Georgia at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga. It’s the first of two big non-conference tilts this week, as Tech will host Wisconsin Sunday.
The Yellow Jackets (4-4) pulled out of a four-match skid last week by defeating Oglethorpe, Georgia State and William & Mary in succession while dropping just one point. Tech has faced three top-20 teams already this season, falling to No. 13 Tennessee, No. 20 Auburn and No. 15 Illinois.
“I liked our improvement over the last week,” said head coach Kenny Thorne. “I saw some fight in this team that goes deeper than just wanting to win. Everybody wants to win but very few have to win. Our guys started to embrace the battle by getting comfortable in the battle this past week. We are improving now with every match.”
The Bulldogs are 5-0 this spring and have dropped only two points along the way, one each to William & Mary and East Tennessee State. Tech rallied from losing the doubles point to defeat Georgia last spring, 4-3, at the Bill Moore Tennis Center, the Yellow Jackets’ first win over the Bulldogs since Thorne’s senior year (1988) as a Tech player.
“The UGA match is a goal every year and very little needs to be said in order to get ready for it,” he said. “We had great support at our match here last year and we are hoping to get some good support to travel to Athens for our match over there. It will be a high level of tennis and we are looking forward to it.”
All-American Kevin King, the nation’s 9th-ranked player in singles, continues to play well, having begun the spring 7-1 while playing at the top singles position. His only loss occurred to the nation’s No. 2 player, Dennis Nevolo of Illinois, and the senior from Peachtree City, Ga., has victories over the 34th and 125th-ranked players in the nation.
Juan Spir, a junior from Medellin, Colombia, playing No. 2 for Tech, has a 6-2 mark this spring and captured three straight-set wins in Tech’s matches last week. Junior Juan Melian, the 2011 Southern Conference Player of the Year before transferring from Georgia Southern, also has won three straight matches at the No. 3 spot and has a 5-2 mark this spring.
Thorne continues to work to solidify the bottom of the Yellow Jackets’ singles order, and has gotten a boost from freshman Sebastian Lopez of Medellin, Colombia, who enrolled at Tech for spring semester and became eligible last week, winning both of his matches at No. 6 singles against Georgia State and William & Mary. Another freshman, Eduardo Segura from Madrid, Spain, has gone 5-2 shifting between No. 5 and 6.
After splitting up King and Spir in an attempt to strengthen the depth of Tech’s doubles lineup against South Carolina and being swept by the Gamecocks in doubles, Thorne paired them back together last week and the result was a doubles sweep in each of the Yellow Jackets’ three matches. King and Spir, the nation’s No. 2-ranked team, is 7-0 this spring, while the No. 2 pairing of Melian and freshman Vikram Hundal is 4-3, and the No. 3 duo of Segura and senior Dusan Miljevic is 3-2.