May 16, 2010

* Courtesy of Georgia Athletics

ATHENS --- The 12th-ranked Georgia men's tennis team advanced to the Round of 16 of the NCAA Championships with a 4-3 win over 29th-ranked Florida State here Sunday. The 11th-seeded Bulldogs will face No. 6 seed Florida in the round of 16 Friday, May 21 at 6 p.m. at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.

Drake Bernstein capped a Georgia rally with a 7-6(5), 6-7(7), 6-3 win at No. 4 as the Bulldogs (19-7) came back from a 3-1 deficit to win their 17th NCAA Tournament match in 18 tries dating back to 2007.

"We knew they were good, they have a top three about as good as anybody in the country," said Georgia head coach Manuel Diaz. "They have great youth all the way around. After doubles I thought that we had a great chance, but after we dropped the first sets on the top three courts, I knew that they were playing so well---its not that we were playing bad, but they were just playing so well.

"I'm really proud-our guys just scratched and clawed and fought and just found a way to win and that's a great attribute to have in your team. We survived and advanced. You have to be able to win some close ones to do well in this tournament."

Georgia won the doubles point to take a 1-0 lead, but Florida State (15-10) roared back by winning three singles matches for a 3-1 advantage. After Christian Vitulli cut the deficit to 3-2, Javier Garrapiz rallied to win 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-3 at No. 1 over No. 31 Jean-Yves Aubone to set the stage for Bernstein.

Bernstein led 8-7 in the second set tiebreaker, but Florida State's Jordan Kelly-Houston rallied to force a third set. After each player held serve in the first seven games, Bernstein broke to go ahead 5-3, then held serve to clinch his team-leading sixth match.

"It's so awesome to move on-we're so exited," Bernstein said. "I knew I just had to take care of my match and that Javy would get the win. I told the team earlier that if the match came down to me I was going to win, so I couldn't let them down. I had to keep my word to them."

In doubles , Georgia won a tightly-contested point to take a 1-0 lead. The 32nd-ranked tandem of Garrapiz and Nate Schnugg beat Vahid Mirzadeh and Connor Smith, 8-4, then Jamie Hunt and Vitulli clinched the point at No. 2 with an 8-5 win over Aubone and Clint Bowles.

In singles, the Seminoles' Anderson Reed knotted the match at 1-1 with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Will Reynolds at No. 6, then No. 66 Bowles beat Hunt, 6-3, 6-4 at No. 3, and No. 75 Schnugg fell to 54th-ranked Mirzadeh, 7-6(1), 6-2, at No. 2.

Vitulli had Georgia's first win in singles, 7-5, 6-3 over Smith at No. 5 to cut the lead to 3-2.

The NCAA Championships will begin in Athens Thursday with the women's quarterfinals. The men's quarterfinals are slated for Saturday, and the finals for both teams are scheduled for Tuesday, May 25. The individual portion of the tournament will begin May 26.

Doubles
1. #32 Javier Garrapiz/Nate Schnugg (UGA) def. #37 Vahid Mirzadeh/Connor Smith (FSU), 8-4
2. Jamie Hunt/Christian Vitulli (UGA) def. #57 Jean-Yves Aubone/Clint Bowles (FSU), 8-5
3. Drake Bernstein/Will Reynolds (UGA) vs. Anderson Reed/Jordan Kelly-Houston (FSU), 8-7, unfinished

Order of finish: 1, 2

Singles
1. #22 Javier Garrapiz (UGA) def. #31 Jean-Yves Aubone (FSU); 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-3
2. #54 Vahid Mirzadeh (FSU) def. #75 Nate Schnugg (UGA), 7-6 (1), 6-2
3. #66 Clint Bowles (FSU) def. Jamie Hunt (UGA), 6-3, 6-4
4. #115 Drake Bernstein (UGA) def. Jordan Kelly-Houston (FSU), 7-6(5), 6-7(7), 6-3
5. Christian Vitulli (UGA) def. Connor Smith (FSU), 7-5, 6-3
6. Anderson Reed (FSU) def. Will Reynolds (UGA), 6-3, 6-3

Order of finish: 6, 3, 2, 5, 1, 4