Feb. 1, 2013
THE FLATS – Looking to test itself against some of the top teams in the Southeast, Georgia Tech begins a run of four matches against Southeastern Conference opponents in the next month, beginning with a visit to South Carolina at 1 p.m. Saturday.
In the run-up to the beginning of Atlantic Coast Conference play on March 15, the Yellow Jackets will face the Gamecocks, ranked No. 47 in the latest Intercollegiate Tennis Association poll, No. 6 Georgia, No. 21 Auburn and No. 15 Tennessee. Also on the slate are No. 62 North Florida and No. 59 Georgia State who, like the four SEC teams, are ranked ahead of Tech (No. 65).
The Jackets and the Gamecocks enter Saturday’s contest with identical 2-2 records, both teams having dropped two matches last weekend in their respective ITA Kick-Off Weekend tournaments.
“This is a tough part of the schedule, but it also affords us some very good opportunities,” said Tech head coach Kenny Thorne. “Our focus is to individually improve on each of our matches over last weekend. Each player had some specific areas we worked on this week.”
Tech was hampered last weekend by the absence of No. 2 player Juan Melian, a senior from Las Palmas, Spain, who had sprained an ankle in Tech’s second match of the season against Lipscomb. Juan Spir, the Yellow Jackets’ All-American from Medellin, Colombia, lost both of his singles matches in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend, giving Tech another obstacle to overcome.
Thorne will need his two seniors healthy and playing well to have success against the teams coming up.
“The guys are getting better and are learning the right way to fight through their matches,” said Thorne. “Our team fights hard and we are starting to take ownership of our individual improvement in matches. We will have a good opportunity on the road against a well coached South Carolina team.”
Tech has won the doubles point in three of its four matches this season, led by the nation’s third-ranked team of Spir and sophomore Vikram Hundal, who are undefeated this spring and 15-1 overall for the year.
After Spir and Melian in the singles lineup, Tech has gotten solid play from Hundal (Alpharetta, Ga.), who is 3-1 playing between the No. 2 and 3 positions, and freshman Nathan Rakitt (Marietta, Ga.), who is 3-0 while switching between the fourth and fifth spots. Sophomore Eduardo Segura (Madrid, Spain) is 2-2 playing in the third and fourth positions.
Following Saturday’s match, Tech returns home to host sixth-ranked Georgia next Friday at 4 p.m.