The Tennessee men's tennis team was defeated by Georgia, 4-2, at Barksdale Stadium on Friday night.
Tennessee fell to 9-2 and Georgia improved to 5-3 after Friday's play.
In doubles, Timo Stodder and Preston Touliatos defeated Robert Loeb and Jan Zielinski, 6-2, but Georgia’s Walker Duncan and Emil Reinberg beat Tennessee’s Pat Harper and Adam Walton, 6-3.
The Bulldogs took the final match as Trent Bryde and Phillip Henning defeated Andrew Rogers and Martim Prata, 6-1, and Georgia went into singles play with a 1-0 lead.
Singles posed a challenge for the Vols, as Georgia brought four of the top 125 ranked singles players in No. 5 Zielinski, No. 19 Reinberg, No. 85 Henning, and No. 110 Loeb. Five of the six singles matches went to three sets.
Zielinski was the only one to lose, as No. 113 Stodder took him the distance. After falling in the first set, 4-6, Stodder took the second set and pushed the match to the tie breaker. He won the tiebreaker, 7-3, and won the match 4-6, 6-4, 7-6.
“The last couple weeks I have been struggling a lot with finishing, with staying in there and with staying positive. Today I was just really focusing on that,” Stodder said. “It was a really great confidence booster for me after getting that win. I’ve been up there once before, up in the top 10, top 20, and now I’m 100 or something, so it has been really great to just compete with the best again and to get that win.”
Georgia took the first singles point with Loeb beating Prata, 6-1, 6-2, but after that match, Georgia had to earn all of its points.
In his first set, Scott Jones took Bryde the distance, but fell, 7-6. He then lost the second set, 6-4. Touliatos lost his first set to Henning, 3-6, but dominated in his second set, winning 6-1. Touliatos took Bryde to the tiebreaker but fell, 2-7, and dropped the final set, 6-7.
“I think we came out very slow, I think we over respected them a bit at the start, but once we got our teeth into the match then we realized that we can do this,” assistant coach James McKie said of his team’s performance. “We were right there all the way through, and I think that Georgia is very under-ranked. I think they are a very good team, especially when they play their full lineup. We just need to keep our head up and look toward LSU and A&M to get some wins.”
Luca Wiedenmann won Tennessee’s other point, as he bested Duncan after three sets, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Walton and Reinberg did not finish their match when Georgia clinched, with the score stopping at 4-6, 6-2, 3-5.
SEC play continues for the Vols as they go to LSU on March 7 before taking on Texas A&M on March 9.