In today’s Division I singles quarterfinals of the Southern Intercollegiate Championships at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex, it’s going to be dog eat dog.
Bill Kallenberg/UGA Sports Communications
Georgia junior Nathan Pasha faces teammate Hernus Pieters in today’s quarterfinals.
With all five of Georgia’s players taking singles victories in two rounds Saturday, the Bulldogs will see two of their own battle it out for a shot at the semifinals, where yet another Bulldog could be waiting.
First and foremost will be a quarterfinal showdown between third-seeded Nathan Pasha and sixth-seeded Hernus Pieters this morning at 11.
Pasha opened the day Saturday with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Alabama freshman Hayes Brewer and advanced to the quarters in the late afternoon with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Vanderbilt’s Rhys Johnson. Pieters was taken to three sets in the morning session by Vanderbilt’s Kris Yee, winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 and then bested Georgia Gwinnett’s Bruno Tiberti 7-5, 6-3 late Saturday afternoon.
Both Pasha — from Atlanta — and Pieters — from South Africa — said they looked forward to the opportunity to face off against one another.
“It looks like I’ll play Hernus — that should be pretty funny,” Pasha said. “Hernus and I played about three sets this week. He’s won a couple and I’ve won a couple. It’s going to be good. Playing tournaments is big for lineup spots, so there’s a bit more pressure when you play a teammate. It’s going to be really good. I can’t wait.”
“It’s obviously going to be a good match,” Pieters said. “[Pasha] has a good game. We’ve played each other a lot in practice. It will be interesting and different to see him on the other side of the net in a competitive tournament situation.”
The Pasha-Pieters winner could find himself facing unseeded teammate Nick Wood, who advanced to the quarterfinals with Saturday victories over Virginia Tech’s Hunter Koontz (6-4, 6-4) and Alabama’s Becker O’Shaughnessey (7-5, 3-6, 6-3).
“It’s always tough to play a teammate, but it’s fun to get out there and compete like that,” said Wood, who’s coming back from a dislocated ankle suffered in February. “We’re practicing every day, so we know each other’s games. It’s tough, but you’ve got to enjoy it.”
Wood will face East Tennessee State’s Rogerio Ribeiro at 10:30 a.m. today for his shot at the semis.
On the other side of the bracket, No. 2 seed Ben Wagland and No. 8 seed Austin Smith could be on a collision course in today’s semifinals. Smith scored victories over Winthrop’s Dylan Comerford (7-6 (4), 6-4) and Armstrong’s Pedro Scocuglia (6-2, 6-4) while Wagland beat Georgia Gwinnett’s Erick Moberg (6-1, 7-6 (0)) in the morning and faced a challenge dealing with a sore wrist in besting Alabama’s Nikko Madregallejo (6-2, 5-7, 6-3) in the evening.
When asked about the possibility of meeting Wagland in today’s semifinals, Smith said, “That’s always a good thing because I think we were about as spread out as we could be, so that means we’re all doing good and that’s good for us.”
Wagland will meet Clemson’s Hunter Harrison at 11 a.m. and Smith will face Vanderbilt’s Gonzalez Austin, also at 11 a.m.
Recognizing that the players on his team have posted a collected 19-0 record thus far in the tournament and that the winning streak will come to an end today, Georgia coach Manuel Diaz put the head-to-head competition in perspective.
“I haven’t had time to really look at the draw, but I knew at some point if we kept winning we’d have to play each other,” Diaz said. “Our guys are playing well and they were challenged in a major way today. I like what I’m seeing.”
In Saturday morning’s doubles play, Pieters and Wagland downed Georgia Southern’s Rayane Djouad and Oliver Webb 8-3, and Smith and Wood defeated Adam Johnson and Vincent Verpeaux of Lander 8-3.
In this afternoon’s doubles quarterfinals, Pieters and Wagland will face Alabama’s Sean Donohue and Madregallejo and Smith and Wood will oppose Vanderbilt’s Austin and Ryan Lipman.
In Friday’s late doubles, Pieters and Wagland knocked off Vanderbilt’s Johnson and Ryan Smith, 8-4. UGA’s Austin Smith and Wood beat Furman’s Matt Browne and Juan Sheppard, 8-1.