Men's Tennis loses to defending champs

SEATTLE - Washington's 36th ranked men's tennis team gave the defending national champion and second ranked Georgia Bulldogs all they could handle but came up on the short end of a 4-2 score in the first round of the ITA Team Indoors at the Nordstrom Tennis Center on Friday night.

With the disparity in their rankings one might have expected the Bulldogs, with their championship pedigree, to roll to an easy win over the Huskies, despite a capacity and mostly partisan crowd. Taking advantage of the friendly surroundings, the Huskies came out ready to play when the match began with doubles. At the second position, Patrik Fischer and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan easily beat Travis Helgeson and Josh Varela 8-2. At 3, Javier Garrapiz and Christian Vitulli got the Bulldogs even with an 8-4 win over David Chu and Martin Kildahl. That brought the doubles point down to the featured match between Derek Drabble and Andy Kuharszky of the Huskies and the Bulldogs' Jamie Hunt and Nate Schnugg. The Huskies looked like they would win the doubles point when they led 6-4 and 0-40 against Hunt's serve in the 11th game. Just converting one of those break chances would have given the Huskies a commanding 7-4 lead, but the Bulldogs escaped six break points against and finally made it 5-6 when Kuharszky dumped a backhand into the net.

Drabble held to put Washington up 7-5, and even after Schnugg held to make it 7-6, the Huskies still had a chance to close out the match on Kuharszky's serve. Unfortunately the Bulldogs used three winners and an unforced error by Kuharszky to tie the match at 7 all. Hunt held to give Georgia an 8-7 lead and the Bulldogs clinched the doubles 9-7 when they broke Drabble's serve.

The heartbreak of losing the doubles point when they had it on their racquets did not seem to affect the Huskies in singles, at least not at 2 or 6. Ryo Sekiguchi got the Huskies on the board with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Varela at 6 and Nedunchezhiyan gave the Huskies their only other point and a 2-1 lead at 2 with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Schnugg, the 17th ranked singles player in the country.

Helgeson tied the match at 2 points apiece with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Fischer in the featured singles match and Garrapiz regained the lead for Georgia at 3-2 with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Drabble at the fourth position.

At that point attention shifted to the third and fifth singles, respectively. At 5, Tobi Obenaus of the Huskies lost the first set to Vitulli in a tiebreak but forced what hopefully would be a decisive third set with a 6-0 second set bagel. After the two exchanged breaks through the first four games Obenaus broke a 2-2 tie with a hold. Unfortunately the match did not go any further because Hunt beat Kuharszky 7-6(4), 7-6(7). Hunt rallied from a 1-5 deficit to win the first set and then overcame three set points in the tiebreak to prevail. Hunt trailed 3-6 in the breaker, but a pair of Kuharszky unforced errors, including a double fault,and a forehand drop volley winner made it 6 all. An unforced error by Kuharszky gave Hunt a match point at 7-6, but Kuharszky saved it with a forehand volley set up by a terrific backhand volley that landed in the deuce court corner. Hunt got another match point at 8-7 on an unforced error and finally put Kuharszky and the Huskies away with a forehand volley winner.

With the setback, the Huskies (4-3) will have to settle for a consolation match against 10th seeded Alabama at 8:30 p.m. at the Nordstrom Tennis Center on Saturday. The Tide lost 4-0 to seventh seeded Texas in their first round match. Top Stories