Georgia Tennis falls in NCAA Finals

PALO ALTO, Calif. - The No. 1 University of Georgia men's tennis team fell to Pepperdine University in the NCAA Championship match by a score of 4-2 at the Taube Family Tennis Center in Palo Alto, Calif.

"Pepperdine put forth a championship effort," said Georgia head coach Manuel Diaz. "They beat us by one match today. But I am still very, very proud of our guys. They too are true champions. This doesn't take anything away from what we were able to accomplish this year. I want to congratulate Adam Steinberg (Pepperdine's head coach) and the rest of his team on a very good win."

After winning the doubles point, Pepperdine took a 2-0 advantage as Omar Altmann defeated Georgia's Ricardo Gonzalez (Aquadilla, Puerto Rico) 7-5, 6-1. The Waves then extended their lead to 3-0 as Ivor Lovrak beat Georgia's senior captain Antonio Ruiz (Monterrey, Mexico) 1-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Facing elimination, Georgia fought back to tie the score up at 3-3. Junior John Isner (Greensboro, N.C.) took down Scott Doerner at the first singles position, 7-6 (1), 6-4, to put the Bulldogs on the board. Next up was senior captain Colin Purcell as he downed Richard Johnson at the fifth spot, 7-5, 7-6.

With the match on the line, Georgia's hopes rested on both the second and fourth singles matches, needing both to win the title. After splitting the first two sets, sophomore Luis Flores (Xalapa, Mexico) was ahead 3-2 in his third set. Meanwhile, with the first two sets being split at the No. 4 position, Andre Begemann of Pepperdine was able to break the serve of Georgia's Matic Omerzel (Kranj, Slovenia) for just the second time in the match. The break came at 4-4, giving Begemann a 5-4 advantage in the third set. Begemann then served out the final game to win the match, 2-6, 7-6, 6-4.

In doubles play, the Waves took an early advantage as Ivor Lovrak and Pedro Rico defeated Georgia's sophomore Luis Flores (Xalapa, Mexico) and Matic Omerzel (Kranj, Slovenia) at the second doubles spot 8-5. Georgia's Ricardo Gonzalez and Colin Purcell then fought off several break points to keep themselves alive. The Bulldog tandem of junior John Isner (Greensboro, N.C.) and senior Antonio Ruiz (Monterrey, Mexico) then came back from down a break to even it up at 7-7 against Scott Doerner and Andre Begemann. After Pepperdine held serve to go up 8-7, Ruiz was unable to hold serve for Georgia as Pepperdine broke to win the No. 1 doubles match 9-7, and clinch the point.

The NCAA Singles Championship tournament begins Wednesday, May 24. Unseeded Flores begins play at 3:30 PST against Ryler DeHeart of Illinois, while No. 2-seeded Isner plays at 4:00 PST against D.J. Geatz of Minnesota. The NCAA Doubles Championship will begin Thursday, May 25. Isner and Ruiz will take on Konstantin Haerle and Robert Searle of Rice, while the senior captain duo of Strahinja Bobusic and Purcell will face Jeremy Clark and Jakob Gustafsson of Louisville in the first round.

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