March 29, 2015
THE FLATS – Freshman Elijah Melendez, the last man on the court for Georgia Tech Sunday afternoon, pulled out a three-set victory over Jorge Wilton to give the Yellow Jackets a 4-3 victory over Kennesaw State, at the Ken Byers Tennis Complex.
Tech improved to 11-6 overall this season and handed the Owls their 10th loss against five wins, winning their first 4-3 decision of the season after losing four matches by that score. The Yellow Jackets are back in action at home next weekend against 12th-ranked Wake Forest and NC State Friday and Saturday.
The match was up to Melendez, one of three freshmen in the Tech singles lineup Sunday. The Suwanee, Ga., rookie had won his first set 6-4, lost the second, 6-1, and was tied in the third set 2-2 when the Owls had tied the match 3-3 with a win on court 2.
Melendez and Wilton held serve throughout the set, the Tech freshman edging ahead only to see the KSU junior answer each time. At 5-4, however, Melendez fought off a pair of deuce points and hit a forehand winner cross-court to break Wilton and take the match and give Tech the victory.
“We played four freshmen in doubles and three freshmen in singles, and it can get adventurous,” said Tech coach Kenny Thorne. “We needed to have somebody come through in a deciding match like that. It was 3-all on the last court, and Elijah came through with some big forehands to win points. Everybody needed to see that, and it was good.”
Despite dropping the doubles point, Tech appeared to take control of the match early by winning the first three singles matches to finish in straight sets. Michael Kay downed Jake Bouchillon on court 3, and Eduardo Segura defeated David Durham on court 5 by identical scores of 6-3, 6-1. Soon after, Cole Fiegel finished off Manuel Castellanos, 6-3, 6-3, on court 4, and the Jackets led 3-1.
Meanwhile, Christopher Eubanks fought back from a first-set loss to win his second set and lead the third, 4-3, on court 1 against Simon Pritchard. But the Kennesaw State sophomore broke Eubanks’ serve at 4-4 and then held to win the match, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, bringing the Owls within 3-2.
Alejandro Valencia earned the tying point for KSU by defeating Nathan Rakitt on court 2, 6-4, 6-4, leaving the match in the hands of freshman Melendez, who has won all six of his dual match opportunities this spring.
The Jackets lost the doubles point for just the fifth time this season. Eubanks and Kay had little trouble defeating Durham and Drew Wendel, 8-3, on court 1, but Tech fell behind early on courts 2 and 3 and were unable to battle back. Rakitt and Fiegel dropped an 8-6 decision to Pritchard and Wilton on court 2, and minutes later, Melendez and Daniel Yun lost an 8-5 verdict to Castellanos and Valencia.
#73 Georgia Tech 4, Kennesaw State 3
Mar 29, 2015 at Atlanta, Ga. (Ken Byers Tennis Complex)
1. Simon Pritchard (KSU) def. #73 Christopher Eubanks (GT) 6-4, 2-6, 6-4
2. Alejandro Valencia (KSU) def. #107 Nathan Rakitt (GT) 6-4, 6-4
3. Michael Kay (GT) def. Jake Bouchillon (KSU) 6-3, 6-1
4. Cole Fiegel (GT) def. Manuel Castellanos (KSU) 6-3, 6-3
5. Eduardo Segura (GT) def. David Durham (KSU) 6-3, 6-1
6. Elijah Melendez (GT) def. Jorge Wilton (KSU) 6-4, 1-6, 6-4
1. Christopher Eubanks/Michael Kay (GT) def. David Durham/Drew Wendel (KSU) 8-3
2. Simon Pritchard/Jorge Wilton (KSU) def. Cole Fiegel/Nathan Rakitt (GT) 8-6
3. Manuel Castellanos/Alejandro Valencia (KSU) def. Elijah Melendez/Daniel Yun (GT) 8-5
Kennesaw State 5-10
Georgia Tech 11-5; National ranking #73
Order of finish: Doubles (1,2,3); Singles (3,5,4,1,2,6)