April 11, 2013
THE FLATS – For a team which has struggled with injuries and close losses, there may be no tougher closing stretch than the one facing Georgia Tech’s men’s tennis team.
Beginning this weekend, the Yellow Jackets (8-12, 1-6 ACC) close out their regular season with three matches on the road against teams ranked No. 52, No. 1 and No. 25. Tech visits No. 52 Virginia Tech (11-7, 3-3 ACC) for a 2:30 p.m. match Friday, then move up the road to Charlottesville to face top-ranked and undefeated Virginia (17-0, 6-0) on its senior day at 12 noon Saturday.
Senior Juan Melian and freshman Nathan Rakitt have played well in doubles, forging a 9-6 record this spring, while Spir and Eduardo Segura have gone 4-3 since Thorne paired them together. But only against Miami, a 4-3 loss, have they both won in the same match.
Melian (11-6) and Spir (10-8) also have given Tech a solid 1-2 punch at the top of the singles lineup, and Rakitt (12-5) has been a pleasant surprise playing at the No. 3 and 4 positions. But it has not been enough for the Jackets to break through for victory outside of its 6-1 win at Boston College on March 28.
“We have our work cut out for us this weekend going up against a tough Virginia Tech team and No. 11 ranked Virginia,” said head coach Kenny Thorne. “There should be some great individual matchups in singles and doubles. We don’t have a good record right now but our guys are fighting extremely hard and I’m proud of what they are bringing to the court every match. We just need to find that fourth point and look forward to the opportunity of getting it this weekend.
Thorne’s team has been competitive in nearly all its matches this spring, in conference play and out, but has not been able to overcome the loss of Vikram Hundal, a sophomore from Alpharetta, Ga.
Hundal played No. 3 in the Tech singles lineup and was part of the nation’s 3rd-ranked doubles team with senior Juan Spir. Hundal was 5-5 in singles and 7-2 with Spir in doubles at the time of his injury.
He has missed the last 10 Tech matches since retiring with a fractured kneecap in the Yellow Jackets’ 4-3 win over Georgia State on Feb. 28. Since then, Tech has lost three times by 4-3 scores and twice 5-2, and has been unable to win the doubles point in four of those five matches.