Knoxville, TN - The 11th-ranked Georgia men’s tennis team was close to perfect on Friday, winning six of seven matches during day one of the SEC Coaches Indoor Tournament at the University of Tennessee’s Goodfriend Tennis Center.
The Bulldogs join seven other Southeastern Conference programs in the season-opening individual event.
Georgia won three of its four doubles matches to start the day, following that with three singles victories while four other Bulldogs received first round byes into Saturday’s singles Round of 32.
“It was a great day today for all our guys,” said head coach Manuel Diaz. “I’m very happy with everybody’s performances, which were accentuated by this last win by Ignacio [Taboada] over the defending SEC Indoor champion. I honestly cannot recall having any better day at this event than today. It’s always so deep and full of so many talented guys. It’s great to have three teams in the quarterfinals of doubles and seven guys in the Round of 32 singles and now the heavy lifting begins. I’m excited about the matches we have tomorrow. There will be some tough opponents and we look forward to continuing to show some progress.”
The Bulldogs began doubles strong, getting a swift 8-1 victory from Drake Bernstein and Wil Spencer over Florida’s Michael Alford and Sekou Bangoura, Jr. They were backed by an 8-3 victory for the third-seeded pair of Sadio Doumbia and Ignacio Taboada over LSU’s Julien Gauthier and Stefan Szacinski. Georgia’s third win on the day came as the second-seeded team of Javier Garrapiz and Hernus Pieters defeated Kentucky’s Alex Musialek and and Anthony Rossi to secure three Georgia places in the doubles quarterfinals.
Georgia’s only casualty of the day came as the freshman pairing of Garrett Brasseaux and Campbell Johnson fell to the UK team of Brad Cox and Brad Quigley by a tight score of 9-7 in their first round match. That duo will enter the consolation draw.
Heading to singles, the rookie Johnson rebounded with a 6-0, 3-6, 6-3 win over Alabama veteran Trey Walston to move to the Round of 32. Bernstein was next in the win column, downing Tennessee’s Taylor Patrick 6-2, 6-1.
Taboada then provided late afternoon dramatics, toppling last year’s singles champion Boris Conkic of UT in three sets. After winning the first, 6-3, Conkic rallied to take the second set by the same score. Taboada was then up 6-5 with Conkic serving in the third, but the senior held to force the tiebreaker. There, Taboada built leads of 2-0 and 4-2 before finally hanging on for the 7-5 decision to take the match 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5) and keep the Bulldogs perfect in singles on the day.
No. 3-seeded Garrapiz had a first round bye today, in addition to eighth-seeded Doumbia and Nos. 9-16 seeds Spencer and Pieters. That foursome will begin their singles play tomorrow in the Round of 32 as all seven Bulldog singles players are still alive.
Garrapiz will be going for singles win No. 100 in a Bulldog uniform tomorrow.
Historically, Georgia has seen success at the SEC Indoors, winning either singles or doubles titles for four straight years from 2005-08 and a total of 48 crowns since 1976. A team tournament through 1988, the Dogs won the event eight times, including six consecutive from 1982-87 under the legendary Dan Magill.
Play resumes tomorrow at 9 a.m. beginning with main draw doubles and continues through Mon., Jan. 17, with both sets of finals. Singles and doubles draws will be posted to www.utsports.com as soon as they are available.
Campbell Johnson (UGA) def. Trey Walston (ALA), 6-0, 3-6, 6-3
Drake Bernstein (UGA) def. Taylor Patrick (TENN), 6-2, 6-1
Ignacio Taboada (UGA) def. Boris Conkic (TENN), 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5)
Cox/Quigley (UK) def. Brasseaux/Johnson (UGA), 9-7
Bernstein/Spencer (UGA) def. Alford/Bangoura (UF), 8-1
Doumbia/Taboada (UGA) def. Gauthier/Szacinski (LSU), 8-3
Garrapiz/Pieters (UGA) def. Musialek/Rossi (UK), 8-5