April 20, 2011
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech has drawn the fifth seed in this week’s Atlantic Coast Conference Championship and will face 12th-seed Boston College when the Yellow Jackets open play at the Cary (N.C.) Tennis Center at 9 a.m. Thursday.
The Yellow Jackets, ranked 16th in the nation with a 17-4 overall record, finished the regular season tied with Miami for fourth place at 8-3, but the Hurricanes got the fourth seed and a first-round bye by virtue of their 4-3 victory over Tech on March 13 in Coral Gables. The winner of the Tech-BC match will advance to face Miami at 9 a.m. Friday.
“We didn’t get a bye in the tournament but that is not a bad thing,” said Tech coach Kenny Thorne. “We will take care of each day as it comes to us. We had a very good regular season and look forward to the tournament this week. We have been playing better and better tennis and I know our guys are well prepared for this tournament.”
Also on Tech’s side of the bracket are eighth-seeded Florida State and ninth-seeded Maryland, who play at 9 a.m. Thursday. The winner of that match faces the top seed and undefeated Virginia at 9 a.m. Friday. Semifinals matches are set for 10 a.m. Saturday, with the championship match scheduled for 11 a.m. Sunday.
Tech has never won an ACC title in men’s tennis, but the Yellow Jackets have reached the finals of the ACC Championship, which has been conducted in its current format since 1986, four times (1988, 1994, 1999 and 2002).
“There is a great atmosphere once tournament time comes around,” said Thorne. “You work all season to be in a good position to do well in the tournament, and now we get to go for it in the tournament. We have competed well all year and I know we will compete like champions this tournament. If we had to try harder now that it is tournament time then we didn’t try hard enough all season. Our guys are ready.”
Tech has steadily climbed from its pre-spring ranking of No. 23 to its high of No. 15 last week. The Yellow Jackets’ eight ACC wins are a school record. If the Yellow Jackets come out of the ACC Championship with a ranking in the nation’s top 16, it will stand a good chance of hosting an NCAA regional in May.
TECH UPDATE: No. 1 singles player Guillermo Gomez is ranked No. 14, and No. 2 player Juan Spir is No. 77 in the latest ITA national rankings. The Yellow Jackets’ doubles team of Kevin King and Juan Spir is ranked No. 14.
All-American Gomez has won 11 of his last 12 matches, and went 10-1 in ACC play, dropping his final match of the season to Virginia’s Michael Shabaz, ranked No. 8 nationally. The senior from Alicante, Spain, has a 29-7 overall singles record this year, 18-3 in dual matches, and is 10-6 against ranked foes. He ranks first in Tech history with 114 singles victories.
Kevin King has won 10 of his last 13 matches and is 15-4 this spring. The junior from Peachtree City, Ga., played No. 2 last weekend in place of the injured Juan Spir and lost both, but is 7-1 at his normal No. 3 position and also went 7-1 at No. 4.
Spir, a sophomore from Medellin, Colombia, who plays 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 13-7 this spring for the Yellow Jackets, including a 7-3 mark at No. 4 singles and a 7-4 mark in ACC matches.
Sophomore Magin Ortiga and senior Dean O’Brien play No. 5 and 6 for the Yellow Jackets, though each played up one position last weekend when Spir was sidelined. O’Brien went 10-1 in conference play this spring.
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 18-3, while Potvin and Ryan Smith are 14-6 at No. 2.
THIS WEEKEND’S OPPONENTS: Boston College went winless in the ACC schedule (0-11), including a 7-0 loss to Georgia Tech at home on April 1, and have a 6-17 overall record. Miami (14-7 overall), which stood second entering the final weekend, lost to both Duke and North Carolina and wound up at 8-3, tied with Tech, but earned the fourth seed based in its 4-3 win over Tech on March 13 in Coral Gables.
NEXT UP – The 64-team field and the 16 regional sites for the NCAA Championship will be announced Monday, May 2. The regional tournaments will take place the weekend of May 13-15, with the 16 survivors advancing to the NCAA Championship, beginning May 20 in Stanford, Calif.
2011 ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE MEN’S TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIP
April 21-24; Cary Tennis Park, Cary, N.C.
Thursday April 21
9 a.m. – No. 8 Florida State vs. No. 9 Maryland
9 a.m – No. 5 Georgia Tech vs. No. 12 Boston College
Noon – No. 7 Wake Forest vs. No. 10 Clemson
3 p.m. – No. 6 Virginia Tech vs. No.11 NC State
Friday April 22
9 a.m. – No. 1 Virginia vs. Florida State-Maryland winner
9 a.m. – No. 4 Miami vs. Georgia Tech-Boston College winner
Noon – No. 2 North Carolina vs. Wake Forest-Clemson winner
3 p.m. – No. 3 Duke vs. Virginia Tech-NC State winner
Saturday, April 23
10 a.m. – Semifinal
1 p.m. – Semifinal
Sunday, April 24
11 a.m. – Championship match