STANFORD, Calif. – Continuing their standout season the Georgia Tech tandem of Kevin King and Juan Spir knocked off the top-seeded team of Boris Conkic and John-Patrick Smith of Tennessee, 6-3, 6-4 to advance to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Doubles Championship.
The Tech duo, seeded 14th move on to face 7th-seeded Reid Carleton and Henrique Cunha from Duke on Saturday. For a team that won the Southern Intercollegiate Championship and the USTA/ITA Southeast Regional, and advanced to the semifinals of the USTA/ITA Collegiate Indoor Championship in the fall, there is much more at stake this weekend.
Friday, King and Spir toughed out a 6-3 win in the first set, then broke their Volunteer opponents three times in taking a 5-0 lead in the second set. Conkic and Smith got off the deck, however, getting back two service breaks and rallying to close the gap to 5-4. Spir served for the match and closed it out with an ace.
Advancing to the quarterfinals garners King and Spir automatic All-American honors.
“We came out quickly today and we got up on them,” King said. “We were able to play our style and take control of the match. They started to come back in the second, but we stayed calm and were able to close it out at 5-4 on Juan’s serve.”
Spir added: “We just trusted our serves and took the initiative in the match. We had a lot of energy the entire match, and we were able to play well in key moments. It feels great beating them, but now we have a tough Duke match ahead, so we are already getting ready for them.”
King and Spir improved to 33-10 this year as Tech’s top doubles team and 10-4 against ranked foes. It was the second time the Jackets’ tandem has beaten a top-ranked foe this year, but the first time in a standard two or three-set match. They had defeated Carleton and Cunha, 8-5, in the quarterfinals of the USTA/ITA Collegiate Indoor Championships in the fall when they were No. 1.
They’ll face the same Duke tandem in Saturday’s quarterfinals for the third time this year. Carleton and Cunha, who got the better of the Tech duo when their teams met in conference dual-match play in April, ousted Texas’ Jean Anderson and Ed Corrie on Friday by a score of 6-2, 6-2.
“We’ve played them before, so we know what to expect,” King said. “We just want to go out and play our game and play confidently.”
“I think you have to consider it a pretty good day when you beat the No. 1 doubles team in the nation and you earn All-American status,” Georgia Tech coach Kenny Thorne said. “I’m proud of Kevin and Juan and how well they have represented Georgia Tech out here at the NCAAs. They have been playing well and competing well. They have worked hard to get to where they are now, and it is nice to see it paying off. They have to get ready for and will be ready for a tough Duke team that they have faced a few times before.”
Meanwhile, Tech All-American Guillermo Gomez saw his Georgia Tech career end in the second round of the NCAA Singles Championship, dropping a 7-5, 6-4 decision to third-seeded Rhyne Williams of Tennessee. The senior from Alicante, Spain, the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, completed his senior season with a 34-8 record in singles, and a compiled a career mark of 119-38.
“Guillermo had an incredible career at Georgia Tech,” said Thorne, whose career singles victory record at Tech was broken by Gomez. “He fought from the first point he played at Georgia Tech until the last point today. He ran into a hot player that was just able to hold him off. It was a pleasure to coach Guillermo, and I look forward to following his results on the pro tour. He will come back and graduate this fall and then move on. We are pulling for him and the other guys that are heading out to play pro tennis.”