No. 17 Georgia men’s tennis lost 4-3 in a back-and-forth match against No. 13 Wake Forest Friday night at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. Wake Forest extended its winning streak to five and moved to 17-4 on the season. The Bulldogs moved to 8-5 with the loss.
“It’s disappointing because I think we put ourselves in a position to win this match,” Georgia head coach Manuel Diaz said. “It’s one that got away.”
The Demon Deacons earned the doubles point and jumped to an early 1-0 lead in the match. They fought back from an early deficit after Georgia’s Trent Bryde and Tyler Zink beat Eduardo Nava and Henri Squire 6-3 on No. 1. Tiebreaker victories on Nos. 2 and 3 clinched the point for Wake Forest.
At No. 3, Georgia’s Philip Henning and Erik Grevelius forced the tiebreaker after trailing 5-3 in the set, but Matthew Thomson and Siddhant Banthia prevailed for a 7-6 (7-4) win. Then, with the players and coaches gathered around No. 2, Melios Efstathiou/Taha Baadi defeated Blake Croyder and Billy Rowe 7-6 (7-5).
In singles play, Croyder tied the match 1-1 with a 6-0, 6-4 win over Rrezart Cungu at No. 4. Wake Forest quickly regained the lead with a win at No. 1 where Squire downed Bryde 6-4, 2-6.
Georgia’s Zink then defeated Baadi 6-3, 6-4. On match point, Baadi’s hit sailed out of bounds and the Georgia crowd erupted in applause.
“Tyler did a great job,” Diaz said. “He seemed to be comfortable out there, played with a lot of trust, and that’s what we want to see.”
Georgia took its only lead of the match with Grevelius’ 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 win against Banthia at No. 6, but it didn’t last long. At No. 5 Efstathiou defeated Rowe 5-7, 3-6, tying the match 3-3.
For the second match in a row, Henning had the opportunity to clinch for the Bulldogs at No. 3.
However, his heroics at Auburn weren’t replicated against the Demon Deacons as Nava won 6-2, 5-7, 6-2. At 40-all, 3-2 in the third set, Henning faced the bitter end of a close call by the umpire after his hit was ruled out-of-bounds.
“I thought the umpire, at first, called it good, but he said he called it out.” Diaz said. “I just thought he kind of changed his call, that was all. He saw it out and we saw it good, and unfortunately what he thinks is what goes.”
Instead of Henning being tied 3-3 in the third set, Nava pulled away, clinching the 4-3 victory for the Demon Deacons.
The Bulldogs will stay at home as they host No. 21 Central Florida on Sunday at noon.