May 24, 2010

Courtesy of Georgia Athletics

ATHENS, Ga. ---- The No. 11-seeded University of Georgia men's tennis team saw its run in the NCAA Championships come to an end in the semifinals Monday evening as the Bulldogs fell by a 4-1 score to second-seeded Tennessee in front of 2,817 at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.

The Bulldogs end the season with an overall record of 21-8, while the Volunteers improve to 31-1 and advance to face Southern California in the championship match tomorrow at 6 p.m. on the Henry Field Courts.

"I think we had a great tournament and I definitely thought we had it in us to win it," said head coach Manuel Diaz. "To say that we were overachieving wouldn't be giving our guys enough credit. We really came a long way in the last two weeks. We had some losses throughout the year but we were able to put in the work. These guys really dedicated themselves and trained extremely hard. After the way that we started to come together, we knew we'd have a strong NCAA tournament. We really came into our own at the end of the year."

The Bulldogs had a chance at the doubles point with each team having taken one match and the third headed to a tiebreaker. The Volunteers' team of 12th-ranked Rhyne Williams and Boris Conkic took a 4-2 lead over the Bulldogs' Jamie Hunt and Christian Vitulli in the breaker on court two after Georgia double faulted. Tennessee then looked at triple match point and pulled out the 7-2 decision to win 9-8 and clinch the crucial doubles point over the host Bulldogs. Hunt and Vitulli had gone down 6-3 at one point before rallying to tie it at six earlier in the match.

The first match off in doubles had been on three, where Tennessee's Edward Jones and Matteo Fago downed Drake Bernstein and Will Oliver, 8-5.

But the Dogs evened the score at one as No. 32 Javier Garrapiz and Nate Schnugg upset the No. 3 team in the country in J.P. Smith and Davey Sandgren, with that match also going to a tiebreaker. The Bulldogs led 7-6 in the breaker and held serve to win it 8-6 and take the match.

"I think that Nate and Javy have become one of the best doubles teams in the country and they went 3-0 in the tournament," Diaz said. "It's a crying shame that they aren't in the doubles tournament because they've been playing really well recently. You have to give credit to our No. 2 doubles team today. They really played well. It's hard to split up Jamie and Nate after the great careers they've had but both guys are team players and I feel as if we built three strong doubles teams this year."

The Volunteers took a 2-0 lead with a win on court six, where Davey Sandgren defeated Will Reynolds, 6-4, 6-3. Georgia got on the board and cut it to 2-1 when No. 22 Garrapiz put up another upset, defeating the nation's top singles player in Smith, 7-5, 6-4 on court one. Garrapiz improves to 32-17 on the season after clinching the match for Georgia in both the Round of 16 and the quarterfinals and picking up another win tonight.

But Tennessee stormed right back and captured the win on five, going up 3-1, as Fago edged Vitulli, 7-5, 6-3. The clincher came on four as Bernstein fell to Tennys Sandgren, 6-0, 4-6, 6-4 and the Vols closed it out at 4-1.

Georgia had a chance to win on court two as Schnugg had rallied from a 6-2 loss in the first set to defeat Cokic 6-0 in the second and was leading 4-3 in the third before the match went unfinished. The other suspended match came on three, where Hunt trailed Williams by a count of 7-6(8), 5-0.

Georgia's appearance tonight was its fourth semifinal in the last five seasons in what was their 32nd overall tournament.

The season will continue for Garrapiz, who earned an at-large big to the individual singles draw to begin Wed., May 26. Pairings and times for the singles and doubles will be announced tomorrow.

#2 Tennessee (31-1) def. #11 Georgia (21-8), 4-1

Singles competition (Order of finish: 6,1,5,4*)
1. #22 Javier Garrapiz (UGA) def. #1 J.P. Smith (TENN) 7-5, 6-4
2. #75 Nate Schnugg (UGA) vs. #36 Boris Conkic (TENN) 2-6, 6-0, 4-3, unfinished
3. Jamie Hunt (UGA) vs. #45 Rhyne Williams (TENN) 6-7 (8-10), 0-5, unfinished
4. #111 Tennys Sandgren (TENN) def. #115 Drake Bernstein (UGA) 6-0, 4-6, 6-4
5. Matteo Fago (TENN) def. Christian Vitulli (UGA) 7-5, 6-3
6. Davey Sandgren (TENN) def. Will Reynolds (UGA) 6-4, 6-3

Doubles competition (Order of finish: 3,1,2)
1. #32 Javier Garrapiz/Nate Schnugg (UGA) def. #3 J.P. Smith/Davey Sandgren (TENN) 9-8 (8-6)
2. #12 Rhyne Williams/Boris Conkic (TENN) def. Jamie Hunt/Christian Vitulli (UGA) 9-8 (7-2)
3. Edward Jones/Matteo Fago (TENN) def. Drake Bernstein/Will Oliver (UGA) 8-5

Match Notes:
Tennessee 31-1; National ranking #2
Georgia 21-8; National ranking #11
Order of finish: Doubles (3,1,2); Singles (6,1,5,4)
T-3:43 A-2,817