May 23, 2012
Athens, Ga. – All-American Kevin King earned his first NCAA Championship singles victory Wednesday in a 7-6, 6-4 triumph over KU Singh of Georgia. The Georgia Tech senior advanced to face 10th-ranked Chase Buchanan of Ohio State in the second round Thursday.
Tech teammate Juan Spir wasn’t as fortunate in his first-round match, dropping a 6-3, 6-0 decision to Singh’s Georgia teammate, 11th-ranked Wil Spencer.
King, ranked 24th in the nation and 28-9 this year in singles, earned the 62nd victory of his career, and Singh, ranked 19th, was the fourth different Bulldog foe King has beaten this year.
The Peachtree City, Ga., native, needed a tiebreaker (7-4) to win the first set after both players held their serves and exhibited some outstanding shotmaking throughout. King got on top quickly in the second set, beginning with a service break, then holding his own serve to go ahead 2-0. He held his serve the rest of the way to win the match.
“Kevin hadn’t played a match in a while, so we weren’t sure what to expect going out there,” said Tech head coach Kenny Thorne. “He started well, which I think was very good. He got off a first few games and was serving well. Both of them were serving very well to start the match. I think the difference came when Kevin got a little more aggressive on KU’s second serve and started putting a little more pressure on him towards the end of the first set and going into the second set. It was a good match for Kevin, especially his first set in a while.
“I think the tiebreak, Kevin wasn’t winning points being aggressive as much in the first set on KU’s serve, but it was constant pressure. I think that allowed him to get a few more errors at the beginning of the breaker. It kind of carried him through. He was up two minibreaks, and lost two on his serve, but he was up. In a tiebreak, when you’re up, you have a little bit of leeway. I think he closed out the match very well. Not playing for a little while, the pressure being on you, and KU is a solid player. He’s tough, he’s been playing very well through the team competition and it’s a good win for Kevin.”
Buchanan easily won his first-round match, 6-0, 6-1, over 28th-ranked Mikelis Liebitis of Tennessee.
King will be busy Thursday. Not only will he have a second-round singles match to play, but he and Spir will have a first-round doubles match against Francis Alacantra and Remi Boutillier of Fresno State.
“They’ve done well in the national tournaments in the past, so hopefully they can get off to a good start tomorrow,” said Thorne. “I like that they play best two-of-three sets in the national championship instead of the eight-game pro set. Everybody is good here from the first round on. If we serve well, we’ll be in good shape. It’s their last opportunity to play together, and hopefully they can make a run.”