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University of Georgia men's tennis head coach Manuel Diaz observes the dual match against No. 12-ranked Mississippi State University at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Georgia, on Friday, March 30, 2018. Mississippi State defeated Georgia 4-0. (Photo/Vira Halim, www.virahalim.wordpress.com)

At the 2020 ITA Kick-Off Weekend, the Georgia men’s tennis team took one win on Saturday and a loss on Sunday in Starkville, Mississippi.

The Bulldogs started the weekend with a 4-1 win over Mississippi State.

Freshman Tyler Zink and Trent Byrde started with a win against Mississippi State’s No. 1 doubles tandem of Florian Broska and Nicolas Ocana.

“I’m proud of our boys,” head coach Manuel Diaz said. “They played confidently and were tough in a great environment.”

Sophomores Blake Croyder and Phillip Henning were off to a flying start in the first game at the second doubles court with a score of 2-0. Mississippi State’s duo of Giovanni Oradani and Stedman Strickland battled back, but it was not enough to stop Georgia’s 6-4 win.

Georgia won five out of the six first sets to open up singles. The first singles point was earned by Zink, improving 6-1 by defeating Gregor Ramskogler 6-3, 6-2.

“The team showed really good composure for the young team that they are,” Diaz said. “This group is really growing up fast. They played with tremendous poise and at the same time with an incredible amount of energy on the court.”

On the following day, the Bulldogs returned to action falling 4-3 in a close match with No. 15 South Carolina.

The Gamecocks took four of the six singles matches after Georgia carried the advantage of its 1-0 after doubles play.

Georgia men’s tennis sophomore-senior duo Erik Grevelius and Robert Loeb won 6-1 against South Carolina’s Phillip Jordan and Beau Pelletier. Byrde and Zink continued with their winning streak, defeating Raphael Lambling and Daniel Rodrigues by a score of 6-2.

Georgia’s two singles wins on the day were earned by sophomores Henning and Croyder. The No. 21 singles player Rodrigues was defeated by Henning 6-4, 6-0, on the first singles match on Sunday afternoon, pushing the Bulldogs’ lead to 2-0. On the last court, Croyer took the win against the Pelletier, 6-4, 6-3.

“Our kids fought incredibly hard and pushed us to the brink of victory but, in the end, we could not close this one out,” Diaz said. “All the credit goes to South Carolina. They earned it. We will need to take this loss as motivation and learn from it."

Georgia returns to action in Atlanta on Feb. 2 to battle Georgia Tech.

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