SEATTLE — The No. 6 Georgia men’s tennis team suffered a 4-1 loss to third-ranked UCLA on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships at the Nordstrom Tennis Center on the campus of the University of Washington.
The Bulldogs won the doubles point and were in a third set on two courts when the match was decided via a tiebreaker.
“It was a tough match today,” Georgia coach Manuel Diaz said. “Our guys played great doubles. UCLA was just too strong in singles and that was the difference. They earned that win by sheer physicality. They’re a very deep and strong team and today was their day.”
With today’s loss Georgia falls to 5-2 on the season, while UCLA remains undefeated at 9-0. The Bulldogs are now 1-1 at the tournament and will play their final match of the weekend Sunday in the quarterfinal consolation round at 11 a.m. They will meet the loser of Saturday’s USC-Kentucky quarterfinal match.
Georgia was without No. 4 singles and No. 3 doubles player Nick Wood, who was fighting an illness after clinching yesterday’s round of 16 match vs. Ole Miss.
The Bulldogs stormed out to big leads on all three doubles courts to start the day, and got their first win at No. 3 as Eric Diaz and Marco Nunez teamed up for an 8-3 win over Alex Brigham and Dennis Mkrtchian. Georgia then clinched the point to take a 1-0 lead in the match as Nathan Pasha and Garrett Brasseaux downed Adrien Puget and Karue Sell 8-5 at No. 2. The No. 1 match was suspended 5-5.
UCLA came out strong in singles, winning four of the six first sets while the Bulldogs took the other two. The Bruins tacked on their first point, making the team match 1-1, with a 6-2, 6-1 win for Sell over Diaz at No. 6. UCLA then took a 2-1 lead as Clay Thompson posted a 6-2, 6-3 win over Brasseaux at No. 5, and it moved to 3-1 as 58th-ranked Novikov defeated No. 21 Pasha in three sets, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 at the No. 1 position.
That left three courts on, and Georgia had won the first on two of them — Wagland at No. 2 and Smith at No. 4, both now in the third. On the final court was Pieters at No. 3, who forced a second-set tiebreaker against Puget after dropping the first, but Puget pulled it out 7-3 to clinch for the Bruins and make it 4-1.
#3 UCLA 4, #6 Georgia 1
1. #58 Dennis Novikov (UCLA) def. #21 Nathan Pasha (UG) 6-2, 4-6, 6-2
2. #13 Marcos Giron (UCLA) vs. #92 Ben Wagland (UG) 5-7, 6-2, 4-2, unfinished
3. #42 Adrien Puget (UCLA) def. #41 Hernus Pieters (UG) 6-4, 7-6 (7-3)
4. #55 Dennis Mkrtchian (UCLA) vs. Austin Smith (UG) 4-6, 6-3, 3-1, unfinished
5. Clay Thompson (UCLA) def. Garrett Brasseaux (UG) 6-2, 6-3
6. Karue Sell (UCLA) def. Eric Diaz (UG) 6-2, 6-1
1. Marcos Giron/Dennis Novikov (UCLA) vs. #5 Hernus Pieters/Ben Wagland (UG) 5-5, unfinished
2. Nathan Pasha/Garrett Brasseaux (UG) def. Adrien Puget/Karue Sell (UCLA) 8-5
3. Marco Nunez/Eric Diaz (UG) def. Alex Brigham/Dennis Mkrtchian (UCLA) 8-3
Georgia 5-2; National ranking #6
UCLA 9-0; National ranking #3
Order of finish: Doubles (3,2); Singles (6,5,1,3)