LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The sixth-ranked Georgia men's tennis team capped an impressive weekend by knocking off fourth-ranked Kentucky, 4-2, Sunday afternoon at the Boone Tennis Complex in Lexington.
The Bulldogs (14-4, 6-1 SEC) entered the weekend tied with Vanderbilt and Kentucky atop the SEC Eastern Division, and notched road wins over both teams to gain sole possession of first place in the overall league standings. Georgia's remaining conference schedule includes home matches against Texas A&M, Auburn and Alabama, and road contests at LSU and Arkansas. Texas A&M is currently the only other league team with fewer than two SEC losses.
"It was a really good win by our guys today," said UGA coach Manuel Diaz. "We played a very good doubles point. I think we got back to doing a few things we had gotten away from. Our two and three teams got back on track and played well. It was great to see us have the belief and willingness to fight it out."
With the win, Georgia also avenged an earlier loss to Kentucky in the ITA National Indoor Tournament in February. Sunday's match was also played indoors due to inclement weather in Lexington.
The Bulldogs won the doubles point for the early 1-0 lead. The fifth-ranked team of Hernus Pieters and Ben Wagland defeated No. 23 Tom Jomby and Kevin Lai, 8-6, then the No. 39 team of Garrett Brasseaux and Nathan Pasha clinched the point at No. 2 with an 8-6 win over Ryuji Hirooka and Alejandro Gomez, 8-6. The match at No. 3 was abandoned with the score tied at 6-6.
Georgia started off singles competition with a win at No. 3 as 39th-ranked Pasha cruised to a 6-2, 6-2 win over Gomez. Kentucky responded at No. 1 where 31st-ranked Rossi beat No. 7 KU Singh, 6-3, 6-3, then Georgia answered back at No. 5 as Pieters rolled to a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Lai.
The Wildcats (16-6, 4-3 SEC) cut the Georgia lead to 3-2 after Wagland was outlasted by Tom Jomby in three sets, 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-2. That set the stage for freshman Austin Smith to clinch his second match of the weekend. The Cumming, Ga., native prevailed in a three-set battle with Grant Roberts at No. 4, 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-3. Smith broke Roberts' serve to take a 5-3 lead in the third set, then went on to clinch his fourth match of the season.
"We just had to play our game," Smith said. "I think winning doubles today was huge for us, then we got it going in singles. We knew we were capable of beating them and we were able to come out on top."
The match at No. 6 between Garrett Brasseaux and Beck Pennington was halted in a first set tiebreaker.
"Kentucky really challenged us today," Diaz said. "They are as good as anyone at the top of the lineup. Nathan and Hernus really stepped up their game, and I'm really proud of Austin for coming through again. Both guys were playing well, and it was just a great three-set battle."
Georgia returns to action when it plays host to Texas A&M Sunday, March 31 at 1 p.m. ET.
#6 Georgia 4, #4 Kentucky 2
1. #5 Hernus Pieters/Ben Wagland (UGA) def. #23 Tom Jomby/Kevin Lai (UK), 8-6 2. #39 Garrett Brasseaux/Nathan Pasha (UGA) def. Ryuji Hriooka/Alejandro Gomez (UK) 8-6 3. #53 KU Singh/Austin Smith (UGA) vs. Grant Roberts/Anthony Rossi (UK), 6-6, unfinished Order of finish: 1,2
1. #31 Anthony Rossi (UK) def. #7 KU Singh (UGA), 6-3, 6-3 2. #32 Tom Jomby (UK) def. #71 Ben Wagland (UGA), 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-2 3. #39 Nathan Pasha (UGA) def. Alejandro Gomez (UK), 6-2, 6-2 4. Austin Smith (UGA) def. Grant Roberts (UK), 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-3 5. #101 Hernus Pieters (UGA) def. Kevi Lai (UK), 6-1, 6-2 6. Garrett Brasseaux (UGA) vs. Beck Pennington (UK), 6-6, unfinished Order of finish: 3,1,5,2,4
University of Georgia