OXFORD, Miss.—The 14th-ranked Florida men’s tennis team opened the 2013 Southeastern Conference Tournament with a 4-0 win over No. 17 South Carolina on Friday morning in Oxford, Miss. The Gators, the No. 3 seed in the tournament, will play in Saturday’s semifinal at 11 a.m. ET against the winner of Friday’s match between Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
“Our guys came out ready to go this morning,” said head coach Bryan Shelton. “It was cold and windy but we didn’t let that or anything else get in our way. We have to stay focused for tomorrow and stay the course. Our goal is to get better every single day.”
Florida got started with solid doubles play, just as they did in the March 8 matchup with the Gamecocks in Columbia, which South Carolina won 4-3. Stephane Piro and Bob van Overbeek, ranked 37th in doubles in the latest ITA Rankings, finished first with an 8-3 win over 14th-ranked Chip Cox and Tsvetan Mihov at the No. 1 position. Florent Diep and Gordon Watson then clinched the doubles point with an 8-5 win over South Carolina’s Andrew Adams and Thiago Pinheiro at No. 3 doubles.
Mike Alford and Luke Johnson led 7-6 on court two when their match was halted.
In the previous meeting between the two teams, the Gamecocks rebounded after losing the doubles point by winning four singles matches to take the victory. On Friday, Diep and Adams were the only two players to have a rematch, as both teams have shuffled their lineups as the season progressed. The changes paid off for the Gators, as they jumped out in singles by winning the first set on four of six courts.
Piro, who has moved up to No. 68 in the singles rankings, beat 39th-ranked Mihov in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2, to give the Gators a 2-0 lead overall in the match. Diep continued his strong play, winning the rematch with Adams 6-1, 6-4 on court two. Adams won the previous meeting in three sets back in March.
One point away from advancing to the semifinals, Alford and Johnson were both close to finishing off their matches. Alford came through first, finishing off Kyle Koch 6-2, 6-4 at No. 4 singles.
Saturday’s semifinal will begin at 11 a.m. ET against the winner of Friday’s match between No. 2-seed Tennessee and No. 7-seed Vanderbilt. Live scoring will be available through the Ole Miss web site’s tournament page.
Vols Surge Past Vandy, 4-1
OXFORD, Miss. -- The seventh-ranked Vols turned the tide midway through singles to beat No. 16 Vanderbilt 4-1 in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center.
Sophomore Hunter Reese's second-half comeback on court 2 helped spark the Vols on a number of courts as the team dug in after losing four of six first sets in singles.
After winning doubles, Mikelis Libietis beat No. 13 Ryan Lipman for the second time this year on court 1 to put UT up 2-1. Jarryd Chaplin defeated Jeff Offerdahl 7-5, 6-3 on court 3, and seconds later, Reese provided the clinching point.
Reese reeled off 12 of the final 13 games of his match to defeat Gonzales Austin 4-6, 6-0, 6-1.
"I'm really proud of our guys because they toughed that out," Tennessee head coach Sam Winterbotham said. "We didn't play really great, and we toughed that match out, and that's really impressive."
With the win, Tennessee will face third-seeded Florida in the semifinals on Saturday at 11 a.m. Eastern.
In doubles, the Vols jumped ahead early on all three courts.
Chaplin and Patrick eventually held out an 8-6 victory on court 3. Jones and Collins sealed the doubles point with an 8-5 win on court 2.
The Commodores did not let the loss in doubles get them down, however. Fresh off a 4-1 win over Auburn the day before, Vanderbilt won four of six first sets. Vandy tied the match at 1-1 when Rhys Johnson beat Patrick 6-2, 6-2 on court 6.
"Vanderbilt really competed so well at the start of singles and got us off-guard a little bit," Winterbotham said.
Libietis and Chaplin both took the first sets, but the Vols needed at least one three-set win to earn a spot in the semifinals. Reese led the charge in that comeback department.
After losing a close first set to Austin 6-4, Reese buckled down the rest of the way. In a battle of baseline play, the sophomore Vol proved to be the more consistent player, taking advantage of Austin's hard-hitting errors.
Reese eventually won 11 consecutive games to help turn the momentum soundly back in the Vols' favor.
"He made a little adjustment in strategy," Winterbotham said. "I think that helped. I think his opponent went off the boards a little bit and allowed him back into the match, then in the third set Reese played really well."
While Reese was wrapping up his three-set match on court 2, Libietis recovered from a mid-set slowdown in the second set to win at the top of the lineup. The Vols' ace lost five games in a row to Lipman but eventually won the second set in a tiebreaker to put Tennessee up 2-1.
Chaplin and Reese both served for their matches at the same time. Chaplin won in straight sets for his fourth-consecutive victory before Reese clinched the deal on court 2.
The Vols now turn their attention to third-seeded Florida. The Gators defeated South Carolina 4-0 in their quarterfinal match.
"We lost to them, 4-3, at home, so we know it's going to be a tough battle," Winterbotham said. "They are good at every position.
"I'm happy with how our guys are, I'm happy with the place the team is and we'll find out tomorrow, if they're in that place still, then we're in good shape."
Texas A&M Knocks Out Alabama, Moves into Semis
OXFORD, Mississippi – The 12th-ranked and No. 4 seed Texas A&M men’s tennis team knocked off 36th-ranked and No. 12 seed Alabama, 4-1, in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center on Friday afternoon in Oxford. The Aggies advance to the semifinals to face top-seeded and second-ranked Georgia or No. 8 seed Kentucky. First serve against either the Bulldogs or Wildcats is slated for 2 p.m. on Saturday.
“Alabama has obviously been on a roll,” Texas A&M head coach Steve Denton said. “They play with a lot of confidence, as you could see in the doubles. I thought the difference of the match came in singles. We were able to win quite a few of the first sets and really stole the momentum away from them. This is a great team win for us.”
For the second time this season, Texas A&M dropped the doubles point to the Crimson Tide. Jeremy Efferding and Jordan Szabo fell to Stuart Kenyon and Philippe Tsangarides, 8-5, at the No. 3 line to give Alabama the first doubles victory. Seconds later, the 27th-ranked pair of Harry Adams and Shane Vinsant was upset by the 34th-ranked duo of Becker O’Shaughnessey and Daniil Proskura, 8-6, at the No. 2 line to give the Crimson Tide an early 1-0 edge.
The Aggies showed no panic despite falling behind early. Texas A&M won four-of-six first sets in singles to seize the momentum from the Crimson Tide. Junior Ore, the 105th-ranked singles player in the nation, won easily in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2, over Proskura from the No. 2 line to even the match at one apiece. Minutes later, 120th-ranked Adams pushed the Aggies ahead, 2-1, as he upset 107th-ranked O’Shaughnessey, 6-3, 6-2, at the No. 3 line. 81st-ranked Vinsant pushed the Maroon and White ahead, 3-1 when he ousted Tsangarides, 6-3, 6-1, from the No. 4 line. Efferding, the highest-ranked individual for the Aggies at No. 26, secured the victory when he downed 73rd-ranked Jarryd Botha, 6-3, 6-4, at the No. 1 line.
Texas A&M will be in action again tomorrow at 2 p.m. Stay tuned to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieMTEN on Twitter to find out the Aggies opponent for the semifinal match.
UGA Posts Semifinal Win Over UK
OXFORD, Miss. --- The top-seeded Georgia men’s tennis team got the clinch from sophomore Nathan Pasha as the Bulldogs defeated No. 8 seed Kentucky by a 4-3 score Friday night in the quarterfinals of the SEC Championships at the Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center on the Ole Miss campus. The Bulldogs (20-4) advance to meet fourth-seeded Texas A&M in the semifinals tomorrow at 3 p.m. ET.
“Kentucky has a good, very promising young team and they battled us really hard,” said head coach Manuel Diaz, who tonight coached the 700th match of his career. “They really showed that they have a bright future. Coming back from losing the doubles point, we had a couple of opportunities to close some matches, and they really battled us out and they turned the match around on court four. We were really in trouble. But I am proud of our guys. We were not as sharp as we needed to be to win this tournament. I think this match is going to go a long way in getting us sharper for tomorrow. Texas A&M is a great team, and they are playing well. But we are still in it, and we are looking forward to proving ourselves tomorrow again.”
Georgia won the doubles point with wins at Nos. 1 and 3, but the teams split first sets in singles three apiece in what proved to be a tight match in the teams’ third meeting of 2013. The Bulldogs took a 2-0 lead as junior Garrett Brasseaux defeated Juan Pablo Murra by a 6-3, 6-1 score at No. 6, but Kentucky responded to win at No. 5 as Beck Pennington downed Austin Smith, 6-3, 7-6(4) to make it 2-1.
The Bulldogs edged in front 3-1 as 53rd-ranked Ben Wagland defeated UK’s 21st-ranked Tom Jomby, 6-1, 1-6, 6-1, avenging two losses to Jomby earlier this season. The Wildcats then pulled it back to 3-2 with a 7-6(4), 6-3 win for 17th-ranked Anthony Rossi over No. 6 KU Singh at No. 1. That left just Pasha and Hernus Pieters on court for Georgia at Nos. 3 and 4, respectively. Pieters eventually fell by a score of 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 to Kevin Lai as the team score drew even at 3-3, and it was up to the sophomore Pasha, who broke to start his third set vs. Charles Minc and never looked back, earning the 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 come-from-behind victory to clinch the 4-3 win for the Bulldogs.
Georgia has now won 20 matches in a season 10 times in a row, and Diaz has done so in 21 of his 25 seasons in Athens. The Bulldogs are aiming to defend their SEC regular-season championship by also claiming the tournament title for the sweep, something Georgia has done six times in history but not since 2007.
The Bulldogs are riding an 11-match winning streak and are winners of 15 of their last 16 matches dating back to Feb. 24.
Tomorrow’s semifinal will get underway at approximately 3 p.m. ET, following the conclusion of the other match between Tennessee and Florida. Live scoring and the Georgia Tennis Live Chat will be available on Georgiadogs.com.