Georgia Tech Athletics

ATLANTA – After fighting off two match points to break his opponent, senior Dean O’Brien served for the victory in front of a full house to earn a 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 comeback win over Ignacio Toboada marking the first win over Georgia for Georgia Tech men’s tennis in 23 years.

“These seniors deserve it,” said head coach Kenny Thorne. “They have put so much time and effort into their games and getting this team to gel and this is the fruition of it. All of the seniors need to hold their heads high. They took out Georgia in their senior year and that is something to be said. Georgia has a good team, you have to give them credit, and they fought. That was not a weak Georgia team that was a good Georgia team that we just beat.”

Ironically, the last time that Tech beat Georgia was when coach Thorne was a senior in 1988.

“It is one of those matches where you are going to be kicking yourself if you weren’t here,” continued Thorne. “I want to thank all of the fans that came out today. They made for an exciting atmosphere and were the big reason that we were able to pull through for this victory.”

The Jackets battled, but couldn’t come through with the doubles point as the Georgia No. 1 and No. 3 doubles pairs earned a hard fought victory to start the day. The No. 8 ranked doubles team of Kevin King and Juan Spir fell 8-4 to their 14th-ranked opponents of Javier Garrapiz and Hernus Pieters. On court three, Guillermo Gomez and Dean O’Brien could just not overcome a 0-6 start to their doubles play, falling after a gallant effort, 8-6 to Wil Spencer and Drake Bernstein. No. 2 doubles play was stopped with Eliot Potvin and Ryan Smith leading 6-4 after Georgia earned enough victories for the point.

“We went down 6-0 in about five minutes,” said O’Brien, “and we just told ourselves that every game counts, whether we win or lose we need to get some momentum back especially for the singles and I think that may have been the key. To at least make a game of it and make them think that we are here to stay and we are going to fight all the way."

Tech evened things out as Spir easily won his No. 2 singles match over 13th ranked Garrapiz, upsetting his opponent 6-3, 6-4 in straight sets.
Georgia fought back to go ahead 2-1 as Sadio Doumbia downed Potvin, 6-2, 6-3 to boost the Bulldogs to a 2-1 advantage.

Gomez, ranked 12th in the country, helped the Jackets back to a 2-2 tie with his hard-fought 7-5, 6-3 victory in No. 1 singles against No. 53 Spencer, winning seven consecutive points to help him earn Tech’s second point of the day.

“At Georgia Tech you cannot wait to play against Georgia,” said Gomez. “We, as five seniors, wanted to leave Georgia Tech beating Georgia and we did it. That is unbelievable. Kenny told us that we just have to do what we do. We are good enough to win and we have a good enough team.”

After Gomez’ victory, King dropped his No. 4 singles match to Bernstein in three sets, falling 3-6, 6-2, 1-6, but his teammate Magin Ortega responded with a 7-6 (7-2), 6-3 victory of his own to even things back out at three all as the final point was determined on Court One between O’Brien and Toboada.

O’Brien fought back from an early 4-6 loss to win the second set 6-3 and force a third set. After fighting off Georgia match points, the senior from Benmore, South Africa broke his opponent and served his way to the 7-5 victory.

“I cannot explain the feeling that I have right now,” said O’Brien. “It is indescribable. This team has been through a lot of stuff and to be the person to get the win, this was for the alumni, the old boys, for everyone, my teammates and my coach.

“I don’t want to pick out one individual, this is a team effort where they just fought like crazy and they got the rewards,” said Thorne. “To God be the Glory.”