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#TGW: Spring Has Sprung

Jan. 14, 2016

By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word

   There was a bit of a different feeling in the air Wednesday as Georgia Tech sprang into the spring season with wins over East Tennessee State and Presbyterian at the Ken Byers Tennis Complex.

   The Yellow Jackets (2-0), who open the second semester ranked No. 43 nationally, are leaving behind the every-man-for-himself methodology of fall. At least one thing doesn’t seem much different: Christopher Eubanks is still rolling.

   He won both his singles matches and paired with Nathan Rakitt and then Carlos Benito to twice come out on top in doubles.

   Ranked No. 6 nationally in singles, Eubanks (13-4) only played four doubles matches in the fall’s open format, splitting them. So Wednesday’s dual match was a little different in more than one way.

   “It’s a different dynamic in that you can lose and still be happy that your team won,” Eubanks said after dispatching Presbyterian’s Danny Bruce, 6-0, 6-3 in the evening match. “I know I’m going to get everybody’s best, I know it’s like a target. I want to embrace it.”

   Eubanks clinched Tech’s 4-3 win over ETSU with a 7-6 (10-8), 6-4 win at No. 1 singles over David Biosca for the Jackets’ fourth point.

   He and Rakitt earlier helped secure the doubles point against ETSU with a 7-5 win at No. 2 over Biosca and Rogerio Ribierio.

   Sophomores Daniel Yun and Elijah Melendez did not play against ETSU, but paired up in the evening for a 6-2 win over Presbyterian’s Diego Manzanas and Alexander Lykou. Tech swept the doubles point.

  “We’ve got nine guys, and we’re going to need everybody,” said head coach Kenny Thorne. “We’re trying to figure out who’s ready and who’s not.”

    Melendez has a 10-3 doubles record, and Yun is 9-5.

   “It does feel different,” Yun said. “In the spring, you’re pushing not just for yourself but you want to help each other. You know your team is relying on you. In the fall, you can kind of get away with saying, ‘It’s just me; no one else is depending on me.’ There’s a little more focus, a little more drive.”

   Brothers Michael and Casey Kay, ranked No. 36, swept at No. 1 doubles to push their combined record to 10-3.

  Tech will quickly return to action as the Ken Byers Tennis Complex will play host to the Martin Luther King Jr. Invitational Friday-Monday.

   Talk about a serious step up. The Jackets will play No. 19 Ole Miss Friday at 4 p.m., No. 2 Oklahoma Saturday at 2, and No. 7 Georgia Sunday at 2.

   “Teams loving coming here for the holiday,” Thorne said. “It’s great competition, and it’s a great place to be. We used to go to Florida, play outdoors, but with the Complex we were like, ‘Why are we always traveling?’ For three years now, it’s been a fantastic event.”

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