Nathan Pasha leaned against the bracket big board behind courts four, five and six at Dan Magill Tennis Complex after his singles match Thursday.
His face was so sweaty it looked like he had just splashed water on it.
His left knee, the one with the partially torn patellar tendon, was swollen to the size of a softball and wasn‚Äôt bearing any of his weight as he propped himself on his right foot.
But the unseeded junior Bulldog managed to climb a mountain, as his coach Manuel Diaz put it, beating Notre Dame‚Äôs Greg Andrews 6-7, 6-4, 6-3 to advance to the round of 16 in the NCAA singles championships.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs just really sore,‚Äù Pasha said. ‚ÄúI really need to ice it. I feel it when I‚Äôm warming up. It‚Äôs just sore. I‚Äôll give it time to rest after this (tournament) and teach tennis or something like that.‚Äù
With Pasha‚Äôs win came All-American honors, something the Atlanta native wasn‚Äôt aware of while he was on the court.
‚ÄúIt feels great. I had no idea until Manny told me,‚Äù he said. ‚Äú… I definitely would‚Äôve been thinking about it had I known, but I had no idea. It feels good to me an All-American. I always wanted to be one of those.‚Äù
Pasha, who improved to 27-13 overall, started the match against Andrews down 0-15 in the first game, absorbing a penalty assessed to teammate Austin Smith, who smashed his racket excessively after losing in the first round Wednesday.
‚ÄúHe apologized,‚Äù Pasha said. ‚ÄúIt was a mutual understanding. He didn‚Äôt have to. It‚Äôs just one point. Although I got off to a slow start, it wasn‚Äôt because of the point penalty. I just played slow in the beginning.‚Äù
The sun and heat had a lot to do with his slow start, he said. Playing on court four at Dan Magill Tennis Complex, Pasha said the sun was in the ‚Äúworst spot,‚Äù causing him and Andrews to commit an abnormal amount of double faults.
‚ÄúYou were just swinging blind,‚Äù said Pasha, who faces second-seeded Marcos Giron of UCLA in today‚Äôs round of 16. ‚ÄúWe were both having problems.‚Äù
Georgia‚Äôs unseeded duo of Kate Fuller and Silvia Garcia had problems in the first round of the NCAA doubles championships, falling 6-2, 6-2 to Miami‚Äôs No. 5-8 duo of Monique Albuquerque and Clementina Riobueno.
Fuller said she and Garcia couldn‚Äôt get into a rhythm early in the match.
‚ÄúWe weren‚Äôt really finding the shots,‚Äù Fuller said. ‚ÄúI mean, we were in every game in the beginning, had opportunities and then little things would happen, maybe we led and the wind would kind of blow the ball the wrong way and just nothing was working out for us. They played well. The capitalized on those missed opportunities and just played a little better doubles than we did, which is hard to say but it is true.‚Äù
Fuller, who was teary-eyed in post-match interviews with a white towel wrapped around her shoulders, ended her career at Georgia with the most doubles wins (123) and the most doubles wins in a season (40), a milestone reached last season. She played the last two seasons with Garcia, compiling a 53-9 record.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôve had a great two seasons together, so I wanted to go out with her, of course, and we didn‚Äôt want it to end like that, but credit to Miami,‚Äù Fuller said. ‚ÄúThey played a really solid match, they played better than us.‚Äù
Teammates and doubles partners Lauren Herring and Maho Kowase had better luck in the first round, downing Duke‚Äôs Ester Goldfield and Alyssa Smith 6-2, 6-4. Herring, who fell to Stanford‚Äôs Carol Zhao 7-6, 7-5 in the second round of the singles draw earlier in the day, said Kowase carried the load for the second-seeded duo Thursday.
‚Äú(Thursday) has definitely not been my day,‚Äù Herring said. ‚ÄúPhysically in my singles (match), I was really feeling it and it was tough to come back after just an hour or an hour and a half. I was really lucky to have Maho as my partner (Thursday). It was kind of a rough tennis day, but I had fun out there. Thank God for Maho.‚Äù
The duo ended the match by breaking the Blue Devils‚Äô serve and Kowase‚Äôs match winner smacked Smith in the face at the net.
‚ÄúI just want to be on this Dan Magill tennis court as long as I can,‚Äù said the senior, who lost in the first round of the singles draw Wednesday. ‚ÄúAlso, Lauren and I always have fun. Just enjoy every single moment.‚Äù
Notes: Garcia, seeded No. 9-16, advanced to the round of 16 in the singles tournament, besting Stanford‚Äôs Taylor Davidson 6-0, 6-7, 7-6. The win gave Garcia, a sophomore, All-American honors. She faces Duke‚Äôs Beatrice Capra today. ‚Ä¶ The Georgia doubles duo of Ben Wagland and Hernus Pieters began the first-round match against Notre Dame late. Results to come when it concludes.