No. 4 Georgia rallies by No. 5 Florida
Bulldogs clinch spot in semifinals of ITA Indoor Championships
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Fourth-ranked Georgia won its second match in two days, earning a thrilling 4-2 victory against fifth-ranked Florida on Saturday to punch its ticket to the ITA National Indoor semifinals at the Boar’s Head Sports Club.
The Bulldogs (8-0) surrendered the doubles point for the first time in eight tries this season to give Florida the early 1-0 lead, but bounced back with four singles victories to secure the win and earn the semifinal berth. The Gators fall to 5-2 on the year with today’s loss.
For the second time in as many outings, freshman Nathan Pasha provided the clinching win at No. 6 singles.
“We had a slow start in doubles,” UGA head coach Manuel Diaz said. “I was disappointed with the way we came out. Florida played phenomenal, especially at the top two spots, but the thing I am most proud of is the way we answered after losing the doubles point. We just came back with a phenomenal effort in singles. It was really the first match that came down to the latter stages, and to see a freshman [Pasha] come through under pressure, and to win a tiebreaker for the whole match -- it’s tremendous experience for him and it will only get better,”
The Bulldogs started off slow in doubles as the Gators mounted 4-0 leads on each of the first two courts. Georgia ultimately would rally on both, but the ninth-ranked Gator team of Nassim Slilam and Billy Federhofer came up with the 8-5 win against No. 7 Wil Spencer and Garrett Brasseaux at No. 1, before Florida claimed the doubles point with an 8-6 win by 14th-ranked Tripper Carleton and Spencer Newman against Hernus Pieters and Sadio Doumbia at No. 2. The match on No. 3 doubles between Georgia's Ignacio Taboada and Pasha and No. 29 Bob van Overbeek and Andrew Butz was suspended in a tiebreaker at 8-8.
Headed to singles down 1-0 and in need of four singles victories, things started off on the right foot as Taboada continued his winning ways with a quick 6-1, 6-3 win against Newman at No. 4 to even the score at 1-1. No. 55 KU Singh then won his second match of the tournament, going 6-4, 6-4 against Florent Diep at No. 3 to give the Bulldogs the 2-1 lead.
But Florida continued to battle, and tied it again at 2-2 when Mike Alford handed Pieters a 6-1, 6-3 loss at the five-spot. Georgia would then surge ahead again at 3-2, when third-ranked Spencer defeated Slilam 7-6(6), 6-2, good for his 94th career singles victory.
That left just courts one and six still in action, and it was the freshman Pasha who provided the late heroics for the second day in a row as he prevailed in a tiebreaker, going 6-3, 7-6(4) against Federhofer at No. 6 to clinch and give Georgia the 4-2 win.
The Bulldogs are aiming for their ITA National Indoor championship, and will look to reach the finals for the eighth time on Sunday. The 8-0 start to the season by Georgia and is the first since 2009, including just the fifth time in Diaz’s 24 seasons.