On Feb. 5th, Georgia took on USC at the SEC/PAC 12 Showdown, and the UGA men’s tennis team was beaten soundly, losing 4-0 to USC. Thursday, during the Round of 16 at the NCAA tournament at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Georgia got its revenge and a 4-3 upset victory.
“It means a lot [to beat USC] especially here at NCAAs in Athens,” Jan Zielinski said. “It was a very special moment for all of us.”
But, it wasn’t an easy road to victory for Georgia (21-7) as the deciding match came down to third-set victories from Wayne Montgomery on Court 2 and Jan Zielinski on Court 4.
After losing the doubles point and going down 1-0, Georgia needed to win four out of six singles matches, with five out of the six singles players for Georgia being underclassman. But according to Montgomery, the team felt like they could win through singles even after a discouraging doubles run early on in the match.
“We had the match-ups we wanted,” Montgomery said. “It was just a matter of going out there and executing the plan.
As Georgia set out to upset the No. 4 seeded USC in singles, it was Walker Duncan on Court 5 that got the ball rolling for the Bulldogs. The sophomore tallied the first singles point for the Bulldogs, beating Thibault Forget 6-4, 6-1.
Emil Reinberg followed suit with a close second-set win on Court 3, defeating USC’s Logan Smith 6-2, 7-5.
Montgomery, Zielinski and Robert Loeb then all went to a third set.
After splitting the first two sets, Zielinski was able to go ahead 5-1 in the final set to ultimately pull out the 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-3 win.
Montgomery kept the momentum of Court 4 going on to Court 2 as he came alive in the third set to secure the Georgia match win with a 7-5, 6-7 (3), 6-2 victory, capitalizing on Nick Crystal’s miscues.
“Personally, I felt confident going into this match,” Montgomery said. “I thought about it last night and had been focusing on USC. We know what they are capable of.”
USC has a storied history in Athens, as the team has won three of its past five national championships (2010, 2012, 2014) in the Bulldogs’ territory at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
However, it isn’t USC moving on to the quarterfinals in Athens this year, its Georgia as the Bulldogs are set to play UCLA on Saturday at 4 p.m.
“[UCLA] is a great team, they have already whooped us this year,” Georgia head coach Manuel Diaz said. “I am confident our guys have learned as the season has gone along [that] we are maturing and I know what we are capable of.”