April 9, 2011
ATLANTA – Lost in the disappointment of Friday’s loss to Duke for Georgia Tech’s men’s tennis team was a tremendous individual performance and a milestone victory for the Yellow Jackets’ All-American Guillermo Gomez.
The Tech senior rallied from a loss in the first set to defeat the nation’s sixth-ranked player, Duke sophomore Henrique Cunha, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, for his 112th career singles victory, which tied his head coach, Kenny Thorne, for the Georgia Tech record. Cunha, who was ranked No. 1 in the nation earlier in his career, is the highest-ranked player whom Gomez has beaten this year.
“It’s something that I never through I could do,” said Gomez Saturday when given a chance to reflect upon the achievement. “The record is not something I think about, but to share it with my head coach, who is someone I really admire, is very special.
“I’ve never tried to focus on that. My thought process has always been to win the next match, and to help our team win the next match, and that has worked pretty well. Now I’m just thinking about North Carolina tomorrow and preparing to try and win that match.”
Thorne, who is in his 13th season as the Yellow Jackets’ head coach, earned All-ACC honors at Tech four years from 1985-88 and was named an All-American as a senior. He still holds the Tech mark for singles wins in one year – 43. Only three other Tech players have ever won 30 or more in one year, and there may not be enough matches left in Gomez’ career (he has 27 this year) to challenge that one.
Among the 112 wins, the one Friday stands out to Gomez because of Cunha’s status in the collegiate realm, though Gomez has beaten many ranked players over the course of his career, and it gave him a 2-1 head-to-head record against Cunha. The other that he named specifically was a three-set win over Wake Forest’s Steven Forman, because it was the deciding point in a 4-3, come-from-behind win.
Gomez will have his first chance to hold the record alone Sunday when he faces Jose Hernandez of North Carolina on Sunday in his final regular season home court match, which begins at 12 noon. Hernandez defeated Gomez in three sets, and the Tar Heels got a win over the Yellow Jackets in February in the ITA Kickoff Weekend in Athens.