May 13, 2011
ATLANTA – Eliot Potvin and Ryan Smith set the tone with a quick doubles victory, and Dean O’Brien began singles in the same fashion, leading 16th-ranked Georgia Tech past Middle Tennessee State, 4-0, Friday afternoon in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Tennis Championship at the Bill Moore Tennis Center.
The Yellow Jackets improved to 20-5, the second-most wins in the history of the Tech men’s tennis program, and will face 21st-ranked Mississippi State (14-8), at 3 p.m. Saturday. The Bulldogs held off Florida State, 4-0, earlier Friday. The winner of Saturday’s match will move on to the NCAA Championship round of 16, which begins May 19 in Palo Alto, Calif., on the campus of Stanford University.
“Middle Tennessee (13-13) did a great job of getting to the tournament by winning their conference,” said Tech coach Kenny Thorne. “Playing at home, we want to get out on top early, and we were able to do that. We set the tone in each doubles match.”
Tech broke on top quickly, winning the doubles point in less than 45 minutes. Seniors Eliot Potvin and Ryan Smith scratched first, defeating the Blue Raiders’ Elliot Barnwell and Kyle Wishing, 8-1, at court 2. Juan Spir and Kevin King, ranked 14th in the nation, finished off the point for Tech shortly afterward with an 8-2 victory over Ben Davis and Shaun Waters on court 1.
Thorne’s team didn’t slow down after the break. O’Brien won for the fifth straight time and for the eighth time in his last nine matches, capturing a 6-0, 6-2 win over Wishing at sixth singles to give the Yellow Jackets a 2-0 lead. The senior from Benmore, South Africa improved to 14-2 this spring.
Potvin got the third Tech point, racing past Dimitri Pippos on court 4, 6-1, 6-1, and King earned the clinching point with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Matthew Langley at No. 3. King’s performance continued a stellar spring for the junior from Peachtree City, Ga., who improved his record to 18-4.
“I liked how our guys played in singles,” said Thorne. “We did the fundamentals well and didn’t try to get fancy. We jumped on them in singles as well, and did it the right way. We hit the right shots at the right time, and that’s been our goal.”
Saturday”s contest will be a rematch of a Feb. 5 encounter in which Tech won 4-0 in Atlanta. But the Bulldogs, who boast four players ranked among the top 90 in the nation in singles, are much improved since then.
“Mississippi State is a very good team,” said Thorne. “They’ve played very well toward the end of the season. They’re good up and down their lineup. Both teams are confident right now, and it should be a good match.”
Tech’s second-round match will be preceded by first-round matches in the NCAA Women’s Tennis Championships. Arizona State will meet Mississippi at 9 a.m., followed by Georgia Tech and Jacksonville State at 12 noon. Admission for all three matches Saturday is $5 for adults, $3 for students.
NCAA Men’s Tennis Championship – 1st Round Middle Tennessee State vs Georgia Tech May 13, 2011 at Atlanta, Ga.
#16 Georgia Tech 4, Middle Tennessee State 0
1. #14 Guillermo Gomez (GT) vs. Ben Davis (MTSU) 4-6, 2-2, unfinished
2. #82 Juan Spir (GT) vs. Shaun Waters (MTSU) 6-2, 4-1, unfinished
3. Kevin King (GT) def. Matthew Langley (MTSU) 6-2, 6-2
4. Eliot Potvin (GT) def. Dimitri Pippos (MTSU) 6-1, 6-1
5. Magin Ortiga (GT) vs. Elliot Barnwell (MTSU) 6-4, 1-0, unfinished
6. Dean O’Brien (GT) def. Kyle Wishing (MTSU) 6-0, 6-2
1. #14 Juan Spir/Kevin King (GT) def. Ben Davis/Shaun Waters (MTSU) 8-2
2. Eliot Potvin/Ryan Smith (GT) def. Elliot Barnwell/Kyle Wishing (MTSU) 8-1
3. Guillermo Gomez/Dean O’Brien (GT) vs. Matthew Langley/Dimitri Pippos (MTSU) 4-3, unfinished
Middle Tennessee State 13-13
Georgia Tech 20-5; National ranking #16
Order of finish: Doubles (2,1); Singles (6,4,3)