April 18, 2013
THE FLATS – Riding the hot hand of its top player, Georgia Tech goes back on the road for its final Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season match with a 2:30 p.m. contest at 24th-ranked Clemson Friday afternoon.
The Tigers (16-5, 5-3 ACC) are in fifth place in the ACC standings heading into the final weekend.
“Clemson has had a very good season. Chuck (McCuen) has done a great job with their program getting them back into the top 25,” said Tech coach Kenny Thorne. “We are still a dangerous team and it will be good to see how tough we can be in our last regular season match. I know that we will fight. I just want to see us poised in our execution on critical points.”
Senior Juan Spir, ranked 45th nationally in singles, has won his last six singles matches for the Yellow Jackets (8-14, 1-7 ACC), playing at the top of the Tech singles lineup, including the last three against No. 25 Fred Saba of Duke, No. 73 Amerigo Contini of Virginia Tech and No. 1 Alex Domijan of Virginia. He defeated Saba and Domijan in straight sets.
The Medellin, Colombia native has gone 8-1 in ACC matches this spring, is 12-8 in dual matches and 21-13 overall.
His classmate, Juan Melian of Las Palmas, Spain, also has enjoyed a solid spring moving back and forth with Spir between the top two spots in the singles order, forging an 11-8 dual match record, including a 7-4 mark at No. 2 singles.
Freshman Nathan Rakitt has given head coach Kenny Thorne reason to be optimistic about the future as well. The Marietta, Ga., native has gone 5-4 in ACC matches, moving between the third and fourth spots in the order, 12-7 in dual matches and 21-14 overall, tied for the team lead in singles wins with Spir.
Thorne has had to rely heavily on freshmen this year in a baptism by fire, somewhat due to a knee injury to sophomore Vikram Hundal, who missed 10 matches since Feb. 28. That has cost the Jackets their No. 3 singles player and half of their top doubles team. Hundal and Spir had been ranked No. 3 in the nation with an 18-3 record. The team is hopeful of Hundal’s return for the ACC Championship next week in Cary, N.C.