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Tiebreakers Haunt Hogs Against No. 6 Georgia

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Tiebreakers Haunt Hogs Against No. 6 Georgia
ATHENS, Ga. – Arkansas’ Southeastern Conference road trip ended on a tough note Sunday, as the 49th-ranked Razorbacks watched No. 6 Georgia win consecutive tiebreakers at No. 6 singles en route to a 5-2 Bulldog victory.

“We gave a great effort today,” Arkansas head coach Robert Cox said, “At one point in the match, it was 3-2 and we’re up the third sets of the two remaining matches. We were up a break in both, but we ended up losing both, so that was tough.”

The match marked the last of four consecutive SEC road contests for the Hogs, who now stand at 2-8 overall and 0-4 in the SEC. It was also the eighth in a series of nine straight road meets for UA.

With the win, Georgia improved to 11-2 and 4-2 in SEC play.

With UG leading 3-2, the Razorbacks were ahead a break on the No. 2 and No. 6 singles’ courts. UA sophomore Andrei Nicoara’s match at No. 6 with the Bulldogs’ Ricardo Gonzalez saw the final two sets go to tiebreakers. Gonzalez won both tiebreakers and the match, 4-6, 7-6, 7-6, and clinched the Georgia win.

The match at No. 2 saw Razorback junior Adrians Zguns drop the first set, win a second-set tiebreaker, and then lose after leading by a break in the third-set. Zguns’ 6-3, 6-7, 6-4, defeat was to Antonio Ruiz.

In the other singles’ matches, Arkansas’ got continued hot play from juniors Rohan Gajjar and Matt Roberts. Gajjar improved to 17-7 overall, 7-3 this spring and 3-1 in SEC play with his 6-7, 6-2, 6-3, triumph over No. 16 John Isner at No. 1. Gajjar is also 5-3 against ranked opponents in 2004-05. Roberts’ win came when Georgia’s Strahinja Bobusic was forced to retire due to injury with Roberts leading 6-1, 5-2. Roberts is now 19-6 in ’04-05, 6-4 in the spring and 3-1 in the SEC.

Hog senior Imraan Ismail suffered a 6-2, 6-3, setback to No. 53 Matic Omerzel at No. 4, while freshman Jimmy Khougassian lost 7-5, 6-3, to Colin Purcell at No. 5.

Georgia earned the doubles’ point and took the early 1-0 advantage. Arkansas’ pair of freshman Michael Jung and senior Talley Parker were beaten at No. 3 doubles, 8-3, by Omerzel and Gonzalez. The Hogs earned a win at No. 2 with Ismail and Roberts knocking off No. 51 Purcell and Bobusic, 5-2, after Bobusic was forced to retire because of injury. UG clinched the doubles’ point at No. 1 when UA’s Zguns and Gajjar were defeated by the 3rd-ranked team of Isner and Ruiz, 8-6.

“We played good, hard SEC tennis,” Cox said, “but we’ve got to take advantage of opportunities. We proved to ourselves we can play with anybody. I’m proud of us, we played like real Razorbacks.”

The Razorbacks now have a nine-day layoff before traveling to Las Vegas, Nev., March 22 to play UNLV. The Hogs and Rebels are set to begin at 1:30 p.m.

Arkansas returns home March 25 for their SEC home opener against Vanderbilt. The match is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at the UA Tennis Complex in Fayetteville.

#6 Georgia 5, #49 Arkansas 2

Singles
1. #98 Rohan Gajjar (UA) def. #16 John Isner (UGA), 6-7, 6-2, 6-3
2. Antonio Ruiz (UGA) def. Adrians Zguns (UA), 6-3, 5-7, 6-4
3. Matt Roberts (UA) def. Strahinja Bobusic (UGA), 6-1, 5-2 (retired)
4. #53 Matic Omerzel (UGA) def. Imraan Ismail (UA), 6-3, 6-2
5. Colin Purcell (UGA) def. Jimmy Khougassian (UA), 7-5, 6-3
6. Ricardo Gonzalez (UGA) def. Andrei Nicoara (UA), 4-6, 7-5, 7-5
Order of finish: 3, 4, 5, 1, 6*, 2

Doubles
1. #3 Isner/Ruiz (UGA) def. Gajjar/Zguns (UA), 8-6
2. Ismail/Roberts (UA) def. #51 Bobusic/Purcell (UGA), 5-2 (retired)
3. Gonzalez/Omerzel (UGA) def. Jung/Parker (UA), 8-3
Order of Finish: 3, 2, 1



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