ATHENS-----Hernus Pieters defeated Hunter Callahan in a second set tiebreaker to lift No. 16 Georgia to a thrilling 4-3 victory over top-ranked Ohio State in a marathon match Wednesday night at the Lindsey Hopkins Indoor Facility.
The five and a half hour match was moved indoors due to high winds and ended with Georgia's first win over a No. 1 ranked team since the Bulldogs defeated Virginia in the semifinals of the 2008 NCAA Championships. Georgia (8-5) extended its home winning streak to 21 matches, while handing Ohio State just its second loss of the season. The Buckeyes (17-2) were winners of the ITA National Indoor Tournament last month in Houston.
After going ahead 2-0, Georgia fell behind 3-2 with Nick Wood at No. 5 and Pieters at No. 6 still remaining on the courts. Wood lost his first set to Ralf Steinbach and led 4-3 in the second set when Pieters trailed Callahan, 6-3, in the first set tiebreaker. Pieters then stormed back to take the first set 7-6(6), and seconds later Wood broke for a 5-3 lead, swinging the momentum in Georgia's favor.
Wood went on to cruise to a 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 victory to tie the match at 3-3. Pieters and 88th-ranked Callahan went to another tiebreaker in the second set, and the Georgia senior prevailed 7-6(6), 7-6(6) to give the Bulldogs their fifth straight win.
"I can't say enough about our last two guys out there on the court," said UGA head coach Manuel Diaz. "I'm sure they felt a lot of pressure. For the first three and a half hours of singles, Ohio State was so clutch in pressure situations. It got to the point where I thought we were in deep trouble. To see Hernus win the tiebreaker in the first set at the same time that Nick was breaking, it seemed to change the momentum of the match for us."
Georgia took the doubles point with wins at Nos. 1 and 3 to take a 1-0 lead. Ohio State won the first completed match at No. 2 as Mark Goles-Babic and Herkko Pollanen beat Garrett Brasseaux and Nathan Pasha, 8-4, but the Bulldogs responded at No. 3 where Eric Diaz and Austin Smith downed Callahan and Steinbach, 8-4. UGA clinched the point at No. 1 where the No. 21 team of Pieters and Wagland topped Ohio State's fourth-ranked tandem of Peter Kobelt and Kevin Metka, 8-6.
"I thought we did a phenomenal job in doubles when it really mattered," Manuel Diaz said. "Our number three team continues to raise their game when the pressure is on."
In singles, 13th-ranked Smith registered an impressive 6-2, 6-2 win over No. 120 Herkki Pollanen to give Georgia a 2-0 lead. The Buckeyes then won three straight matches, including two in three sets at Nos. 3 and 4 to go ahead 3-2. Wood then knotted the match at 3-3 with his victory at No. 5, setting the stage for Pieters to clinch at No. 6. It was his team-leading third clincher of the season, and the Pretoria, South Africa, native has won eight consecutive matches.
"I just kept telling myself to keep concentrating, because there was so much going on around me," Pieters said. "I tried to keep my focus as much as possible, and I think that even increased after Nick won."
Georgia will step back into conference action with at match at South Carolina Friday at 5 p.m., then the Bulldogs travel to Gainesville to take on Florida Sunday at 1 p.m.
"We have a lot to be thankful for," Diaz said. "We get to feel good for less than 24 hours, and then we leave for a match against South Carolina and then on to Florida on Sunday. It's always good to beat the number one team in the country, but we have to get back to our main goal, which is winning our conference."
Tennis Match Results
Ohio State vs Georgia
Mar 12, 2014 at Athens, Ga.
#16 Georgia 4, #1 Ohio State 3
1. #9 Peter Kobelt (OSU) def. #25 Nathan Pasha (UGA) 7-6 (8-6), 6-2
2. #13 Austin Smith (UGA) def. #120 Herkko Pollanen (OSU) 6-2, 6-2
3. Chris Diaz (OSU) def. #87 Ben Wagland (UGA) 6-0, 2-6, 6-3
4. Kevin Metka (OSU) def. #79 Garrett Brasseaux (UGA) 3-6, 6-4, 6-4
5. Nick Wood (UGA) def. Ralf Steinbach (OSU) 5-7, 6-3, 6-2
6. Hernus Pieters (UGA) def. #88 Hunter Callahan (OSU) 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (8-6)
1. #21 Hernus Pieters/Ben Wagland (UGA) def. #4 Peter Kobelt/Kevin Metka (OSU) 8-6
2. Mark Goles-Babic/Herkko Pollanen (OSU) def. Garrett Brasseaux/Nathan Pasha (UGA) 8-4
3. Eric Diaz/Austin Smith (UGA) def. Hunter Callahan/Ralf Steinbach (OSU) 8-4
Ohio State 17-2; National ranking #1
Georgia 8-5; National ranking #16
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (2,1,3,4,5,6)
Match moved indoors due to high winds.
Official: Clark Weaver T-5:30 A-471