April 14, 2011
ATLANTA – Looking to remain among the top four teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference standings and earn a bye in next week’s conference championship, Georgia Tech faces a tall task this weekend with visits to 37th-ranked Virginia Tech and No. 1 Virginia.
Tthe Yellow Jackets, ranked 15th in the nation with a 16-3 overall record, are tied for third place with Duke and North Carolina at 7-2 heading into this weekend, each fighting for one of the top four seeds and a first-round bye in next week’s ACC Tournament in Cary, N.C.
Tech defeated Virginia Tech at home (4-3) last year, but lost to the Cavaliers both at home (5-2) and in the ACC Tournament (4-1).
“The end of our season is the most challenging part of the season,” said Tech coach Kenny Thorne. “Three of the last four teams in our regular season are top 20 teams. We finish our last two matches in Virginia against the top ranked school in the nation and a very good Virginia Tech team. We beat Virginia Tech twice last year and both were very close matches. I know they will be ready to play us at their place so we are looking forward to that battle. We then hop on a bus and head to Charlottesville to play against a team that hasn’t found a way to lose a match this year. They are undefeated and are very good. As long as we play to win, we will be successful. Our guys are fighting hard and getting better and that is all we can ask.”
Tech comes into the weekend having won six of its last seven matches, but the back end of its schedule is the most challenging. The Yellow Jackets lost to No. 11 Duke Friday before rebounding to defeat No. 18 North Carolina Sunday, both at home.
TECH UPDATE: No. 1 singles player Guillermo Gomez is ranked No. 15, and No. 2 player Juan Spir is No. 83 in this week’s ITA national rankings. The Yellow Jackets’ doubles team of Kevin King and Juan Spir is ranked No. 15.
All-American Gomez has won 11 straight matches, including all nine ACC contests, to improve his record to 17-2 in the spring, 28-6 overall. The senior from Alicante, Spain, defeated two top-40 foes last weekend, handing Duke’s Henrique Cunha his first-ever ACC loss and North Carolina’s Jose Hernandez his first conference defeat of the spring. In the process, Gomez surpassed his head coach for Georgia Tech’s career singles victory record (113).
Kevin King has also won 10 of his last 11 matches and is 15-2 this spring. The junior from Peachtree City, Ga., has played his last eight matches at No. 3 in the lineup, winning all but one of them after going 7-1 at No. 4.
Spir, a sophomore from Medellin, Colombia, playing No. 2 for the Jackets, is 4-5 in ACC play. He is 11-7 in the spring, 22-11 overall. Senior Eliot Potvin also is 12-6 this spring for the Yellow Jackets, including a 6-2 mark at No. 4 singles.
Spir and King are 12-5 in doubles matches this spring, having defeated six ranked tandems out of 27 total victories this year. Gomez and Dean O’Brien, who play No. 3 doubles, have the Jackets’ best spring record at 16-3, while Potvin and Ryan Smith are 13-5 at No. 2.
ACC UPDATE: Top-ranked Virginia (24-0 overall) is the only undefeated team in conference play at 9-0. Miami is in second place at 8-1, followed by Tech, Duke and North Carolina, all at 7-2. Virginia Tech and Florida State are tied for sixth place at 4-5 in league play.
THIS WEEKEND’S OPPONENTS: Virginia Tech (12-9 overall) is ranked No. 37 nationally, and has one player – 53rd-ranked Luka Somen – listed in this week’s ITA rankings. Pedro Graber and Will Beck are No. 43 in doubles. Virginia has been ranked No. 1 all year, has won 85 consecutive dual matches and 72 straight ACC matches. The Cavaliers have two players ranked among the nation’s top 10 – Alex Domijan (2) and Michael Shabaz (8) – and three more in the top 40 – Sanam Singh (32), Drew Courtney (39) and Jarmere Jenkins (50). Shabaz and Courtney are ranked No. 2 as a doubles team, while Domijan and Jenkins are ranked No. 26.
NEXT UP: Georgia Tech competes in the ACC Championship, April 21-24, in Cary, N.C.