³We earned a hard-fought victory tonight,² said Georgia head coach Manuel Diaz. ³The conditions were very tough, it was cold and windy. Auburn played a very good match, but we really had some guys who came through and fought like champions. I¹ve seen very few matches as good as the No. 2 singles match tonight. Lathouwers didn¹t miss a shot for the last two sets but somehow Luis found a way to come out on top.²
Georgia took a 1-0 lead into singles play for the 15th time this season by winning two of the three doubles matches. That lead was quickly erased however, as Lukas Marsoun defeated Georgia¹s 103rd-ranked Ricardo Gonzalez (Aquadilla, Puerto Rico), 6-3, 6-1 at the No. 6 singles spot. Senior captain Colin Purcell (Louisville, Ky.) then regained Georgia¹s edge with a 7-6 (11-9), 6-2 win over Pawel Dilaj at the No. 5 singles position, extending his personal winning streak to nine consecutive singles matches. No. 1-ranked John Isner then made it a 3-1 Bulldog advantage as he downed Alex Schweizer from the first singles slot, 7-5, 7-6 (7-5), to advance his own winning streak to 14 straight contests.
Auburn did not quit however, again cutting into Georgia¹s lead as Milan Krnjetin came from behind to hand Georgia¹s senior captain Antonio Ruiz (Monterrey, Mexico) a 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 loss, slashing the Georgia lead to 3-2. Flores stepped up and came through however, knocking off Robbert Lathouwers in a three-set tiebreaker, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 to clinch the match. 42nd-ranked junior Matic Omerzel closed the match on a winning note and extended his own unbeaten streak to eight matches, with a come-from-behind three-set win, 1-6, 6-4, 6-3.
³We had three guys win crucial tiebreakers when it really mattered,² said Diaz. ³John, Luis and Colin all came up big. Colin was down about four set points but came back to win. He has been very solid for us all season.
³We also had a couple of guys who didn¹t play as well,² continued Diaz. ³Ricardo¹s back tightened up in the cold which made him ineffective, but I am sure that he will bounce back and be just fine. Antonio is in a bit of a slump, but we all know that he can break out of that as well. He just needs to show a little bit more of a fighting attitude. I know he can do it, he just needs to compete a little bit better to work his way out of it.²
In doubles action, Georgia¹s 61st-ranked duo of Flores and Omerzel claimed the first victory, downing Lathouwers and Marsoun at the second doubles position, 8-5. 9th-ranked Isner and Ruiz then topped Schweizer and Krnjetin in the first spot to clinch the doubles point with an 8-4 win. The third doubles match that featured Purcell and Gonzalez against Dilaj and Lane was suspended with Auburn leading 6-3.
The top-ranked look to remain undefeated on Sunday as they return to action on their home courts at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. Georgia will tangle with the 43rd-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide at 1 p.m. The first 150 fans in attendance will receive a free T-shirt courtesy of Verizon. Admission to all Georgia tennis home matches is free.