HOUSTON | The No. 4 Georgia men’s tennis team had bounced back from a 3-1 deficit to pull even with Texas at 3-3, before dropping the final match in a 4-3 loss to the Longhorns in round of 16 action at the ITA National Indoor Championships on Friday afternoon in Houston.
With the team match even at 3-3 and court No. 3 hanging in the balance, sophomore Ben Wagland was overruled and assessed a code violation on his own match point. The code violation — which became a game penalty — resulted in his forfeiting the ensuing tiebreaker, and ultimately the match, as the 10th-ranked Texas claimed the 4-3 win.
Following the overrule and the loss, Wagland had an outburst that included an exchange with the chair umpire. Diaz suspended Wagland suspension for the duration of the tournament.
“We are disciplining Ben for his actions,” coach Manuel Diaz said in a release. “He will not be competing for the rest of the tournament. It was an unfortunate situation, but we have to send a strong message that our players need to keep their composure, and they need to represent themselves and their university in the right way at all times. Ben is a good kid — he cares about his teammates — and today he didn’t handle the situation the right way and he is embarrassed. We would like to apologize to the ITA, the University of Texas, and our host site. This is a hard lesson to learn, but hopefully Ben will better understand the way he needs to conduct himself.”
The loss slips Georgia to 3-3 on the dual match season in 2014, and the Bulldogs will now take on SEC rival Florida in the consolation draw at 10 a.m. today.
The Bulldogs got out to an early 1-0 lead by way of the doubles point, as each of the Nos. 1 and 2 teams handed Texas 6-3 losses. First was the pair of Nathan Pasha and Garrett Brasseaux over Nick Naumann and George Goldhoff at No. 2, followed closely by 31st-ranked Hernus Pieters and Wagland over seventh-ranked Soren Hess-Olesen and Lloyd Glasspool at No. 1 to provide the clinch and the point.
The teams then went on to split first sets at three apiece in singles, and the Longhorns evened the team match at 1-1 when Naumann defeated sophomore Nick Wood, 6-4, 6-3, at No. 5. Texas took a 2-1 lead with a 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 win for Glasspool over Pasha at No. 2, and it became 3-1 as Hess-Olesen defeated Austin Smith, 5-6(5), 6-1, 6-4 at No. 1.
With Texas in need of just one more point and the Bulldogs in need of every court still on, all three were in third sets and the drama building. Pieters gave Georgia its next point, rallying from a loss in the first set to beat Sudanwa Sitaram by a score of 4-6, 6-5(6), 6-2 at No. 6 to cut it to 3-2. No. 59-ranked Brasseaux then overcame a close second-set tiebreaker loss to win the breaker for the third set, winning his match 6-3, 5-6(5), 6-5(3) at No. 4 to make it 3-3.
It was then that Wagland was assessed the penalty in the final game of the third set — overruled at 5-4 on match point for himself and game point for his opponent — to force the tiebreaker. The game penalty kicked in to cost him the breaker, and the match, as Goldhoff won it 2-6, 6-4, 6-5(0) in lifting the Longhorns to the 4-3 victory.