Tech Downs Mississippi State, 4-1, in NCAA Second Round
Yellow Jackets advance to NCAA Sweet 16 in Palo Alto, Calif., for first time since 1994.
May 14, 2011
ATLANTA - Guillermo Gomez' victory in a second-set tiebreaker at first singles swung momentum back to Georgia Tech, and Dean O'Brien got the match-clinching point with a straight-set victory at No. 6, leading Georgia Tech past Mississippi State, 4-1, in an NCAA Men's Tennis Championship second-round match at the Bill Moore Tennis Center.
The 16th-ranked Yellow Jackets (21-5) have advanced to the NCAA round of 16 for the first time since 1994, where they will face Southern California next Thursday in Palo Alto, Calif. The Trojans defeated San Diego Saturday, 4-0, to advance. The season ended for the 21st-ranked Bulldogs at 14-9.
"Mississippi State had a great season. We beat them early, but we knew they were going to be very tough today," said Thorne. "The doubles point was extremely important. We played some of our best doubles of the entire season today, and we did that under pressure. I'm very proud of our doubles teams right now."
Tech had little trouble winning the doubles point, as Potvin and Smith captured an 8-3 win at No. 2, and the Jackets' 14th-ranked pair of Kevin King and Juan Spir won the last three games of their match to snap a 5-5 deadlock and win 8-5.
But after winning the first set in five of the six singles matches, the Yellow Jackets found the going much tougher as Mississippi State rallied to tie the matches on the No. 2 and 4 courts after winning the first set at No. 5.
The Bulldogs' George Coupland, after dropping the first set, rallied to defeat Juan Spir at second singles, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 to even the match. Gomez, already up a set at No. 1 singles over Artem Ilyushin, finished off a tiebreaker win the second set almost immediately afterward, giving the lead back to Tech, 2-1.
Kevin King, Tech's No. 3 player, lost a 4-1 lead in the second set after easily winning his first set, but battled back to put the match away, 6-2, 6-4, over Malte Stropp, making the score, 3-1. Meanwhile, O'Brien finished off a tight second set with Zach White for a straight-set victory, 6-4, 6-4, at No. 6 for the deciding point.
"Then to come out and win five of the six first sets, we played very well at the beginning of the match in singles," said Thorne. "Mississippi State has great fighters, and we knew they would battle back. They turned a couple of matches around. Guillermo had a solid day and played well, finishing his match off to give us a push.
"Kevin has played well all season, and played a very good first set today. He fought through a second set and kept the pressure on them. Dean got a service break right after Kevin finished and put away his match. He's clinched two of our biggest matches of the year. He's worked very hard in the two years he's been with us."
NCAA Men's Tennis Championship
#16 Georgia Tech 4, #21 Mississippi State 1