ATLANTA, GEORGIA — Once again, the RECC is out of commission, and I don’t have much to add in terms of an introduction. There’s quite a lot of updates to discuss this weekend with both tennis teams returning to the court and some news from the club sports scene to report as well. Thus, we will get right to the point and save the editorializing that usually exists in this space for the admittedly strong spin zone action in the big picture takeaways from the men’s tennis results.
Overall: 13-4 / Last Week: 2-1
Polls - AP Poll: 15 | Coaches: 16
Nerd Stuff - Massey: 28 | NET: 19
On the whole of things, it might seem that the three games that Tech played this week were wildly different. In the first game, Tech controlled the flow the entire game and wound up with a comfortable win. In the second, Tech narrowly edged out a very respectable Florida State team. In the closing edition on Sunday, the Jackets were narrowly upset by Miami. three games, three different results. However, the through line between all three was the story of the second half meltdown. Allow me to explain.
Georgia Tech admittedly got the short end of the stick this week, as they were compelled to play four games in eight days due to their previous COVID-related issues. They started off the second game in that stretch on the road against Pittsburgh, and were thoroughly routing the Panthers until the end of the game. Pittsburgh, despite losing by up to 29 points only lost the contest 62-53 thanks to a 24-7 margin in the fourth quarter. Tech was thoroughly outgunned throughout, and they played their usual rotation for much of that time, as well. Of course, a solid win is a solid win, but they definitely cut the margin a little closer there than one would expect.
In the second game, Tech once again rocketed out to a large early lead, only to see it steadily evaporate as the game wore on. The Seminoles charged into the third quarter and outscored Tech 22-10 to enter the final frame with a 5 point lead. This is where it stayed for much of the fourth, with their largest lead coming at 7 with 3:52 to play. Tech both got lucky and played well to close the gap, with a combination of a Lorela Cubaj three point play and quick steal from Lotta-Maj Lahtinen to hit Eylia Love for a layup cut the lead to two before Lahtinen gave Tech back the lead with a long three. Tech and their guests traded points before a field goal gave Tech the lead and free throws iced the game, 68-64.
In the third contest, once more on the road in Miami, Tech clearly wore down as the game progressed. Their largest lead came late in the third, as they were nine points clear of the Hurricanes. In the fourth, though, all Tech could muster was a measly four points, allowing Miami to sneak away with a one point win, the narrowest of margins. Down the stretch, Miami’s smothering full court press forced turnovers, something that this column has noted in the past about the ‘Canes. Tech came up empty from three point range seven times, including a heave to essentially end the game despite only trailing by one point. One might wonder why a timeout was not called there.
On the whole, Tech’s free throw woes have largely abated, and the Jackets have done well in their free opportunities over the past few weeks. However, despite being a tough and tenacious defense, they have struggled against similarly hounding defenses, which ultimately cost them both the Miami game and the Louisville home game earlier in the season, which would have been a marquee win arguably of greater significance than the UConn one, given the teams’ relative strengths at the time of play. In addition, the eagerness to shoot the three has similarly hurt Tech, who have seen games with great success from three — always appreciated — but also several akin to the 2-13 clunker in Coral Gables, as well. With such strong post presences and effective players in the paint, they have options in the form of Nerea Hermosa and the deservedly vaunted Cubaj, as well as the dynamic and talented combinations of Love, Lahtinen, and Strautmane, but there have now been multiple games where the ineffectiveness from three has made a not-insignificant impact on the outcome of the game.
This team is fantastic, well-regarded, and is every bit deserving of the success they’ve seen. However, it is also worth acknowledging that they are so very close to being undefeated, leading the conference, and a single digit poll ranking. Thus are the margins in this fickle sport, indeed.
Georgia Tech is next in action Thursday in the Carrier Dome as they visit Syracuse, and they will return home to host a ranked North Carolina team on Sunday.
Polls - ITA: 29
Tech put together a solid weekend at home hosting Columbia, Illinois, and North Carolina. Columbia is sitting at 27 in the preseason rankings, while Illinois slotted in at 23 and North Carolina at 14. Tech did not face the Tar Heels in match play, being a conference opponent, but all three programs are strong and represent a great slate to start the season with. Saturday, Keshav Chopra notched an upset of a ranked opponent in singles, though Andres Martin was edged 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 in three sets by a similarly ranked opponent. Tech ultimately went 3-3 in singles and won the doubles point, so we can call that a quality win, even if the match results don’t count in the season record.
On the second day of competition, Tech again notched what would be a win come next week, this time by getting the job done in singles play, led once more by Keshav Chopra upsetting another ranked opponent. Seems like he should, in fact, be the one ranked, but that’s editorializing. Tech went one for three in doubles play, included a 6-3 upset of #3 Andres Martin and Marcus McDaniel, which was surprising, but the tennis math of four singles matches is just as much of a win as three singles and the doubles point, so a win is a win is a win.
To close the weekend, there were some odds and ends to wrap, as an unconventional pair of Andres Martin and Chen Dong defeated a duo from North Carolina and Keshav Chopra and Pablo Schelcher defeated a pair from Columbia, both 6-3, while Andres Martin and Keshav Chopra both notched extra wins against Columbia in singles play.
Of note, Marcus McDaniel also won twice on the weekend, while the aforementioned Chopra not only went 3-0 in singles, but 3-0 in doubles with Schelcher, too. All in all, a tremendous weekend for the Jackets.
Tech is next in action on Friday hosting Georgia State, while they will also face The Citadel at home on Sunday.
Polls - ITA: 12
Georgia Tech opened the spring season this weekend in Columbia at the Carolina Kickoff. Tech has been quite familiar with the Gamecocks over the past few seasons, and this weekend was no different, as the two teams faced off on the opening day of competition, with South Carolina’s vaunted court one singles cornerstone Sarah Hamner defeating Tech freshman Kylie Bilchev and Ruth Marsh falling on court three, but Tech won the other five. If it was a regular match, this alone would have given Tech the win. In doubles, Tech went one for three against both South Carolina and Auburn. On the second day of the weekend, Tech was able to notch 5 wins on 8 singles courts, including Carol Lee’s upset of a ranked opponent, though Bilchev did get upset, as well. On the doubles side, Tech went one for three once more, but that one win was a massive upset of the #2 pairing in the country from Wake Forest by Carol Lee and Kate Sharabura. All in all, a solid weekend against a ranked Auburn team and a South Carolina team that is receiving votes.
Tech is next in action next Saturday at home against Georgia Southern to open match play.
Track and Field
Nerd Stuff - USTFCCCA Index: First Release in Two Weeks
Not sure why I said the first release of the rankings would have been this past week, since that was just, well, incorrect, so keep a heads up for that in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, Georgia Tech was definitely back in action this weekend in Nashville. Unfortunately, Riley Perlakowski did not continue her undefeated streak in the 1000 meter event, coming in behind the leader for the first time in her career on the Flats. However, that leader was none other than Nicole Fegans, who once again broke a school record, this time in the aforementioned events. That trope, at least, remains alive, and it is worth noting that Perlakowski, for her part, was also under the old standard.
The pair went on to snag both the mile and the 800 meter, with Fegans taking the longer and Perlakowski the shorter. Not to be left out, Zach Jaegar and Alex Thomas from the men’s team were able to beat the field in the mile and 800 meter distances, following up Thomas’ win in the 1000 meter on the first day of competition. Olivia Moore once again led the way in the pole vault, as well.
Tech will next be in action at the Carolina Challenge this weekend in Columbia.
In the Club House:
Tech went 1-1 on the weekend in Savannah, and despite setting themselves up for a run at the Thrasher Cup with a 7-3 demolition of Florida State on the opening night of competition, they needed to both score a lot of goals against the boys from Athens and win the game in order to take the cup from Florida, but came up just short on both measures. They finish the season series against the Athenians knotted at 2 and currently sit at 14-7 on the regular season with seven games to play. The remainder of the games feature a Florida State rematch, a home and home against Clemson, and pairs of games against both Tennessee and South Carolina.
Women’s Lacrosse released their schedule this week. The nine game slate begins in the middle of February with a pair of home games against the school in Athens and Clemson, joined by three other home contests.
Men’s Lacrosse released their schedule earlier in the fall, but seeing the women’s release reminded me that I may have dropped the ball on mentioning it. Tech will host 10 games this year and play a total of 14 in the regular season. For some reason, there is a new conference in lacrosse, so Clemson is no longer a conference rival in the SELC, but the schedule will feature a bevy of familiar faces — including the Tigers — and the final home weekend of the year features a doubleheader weekend at Stamps Field against Florida State and the school in Athens to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the club program. Of course, the history of lacrosse on the Flats actually goes back much further than that, but this is quite the anniversary for a club program to be celebrating. Here’s to many more!
Also of note, Tech has won the coaches’ poll as the presumptive conference favorite.
1/19 - Wake Forest
1/23 - Clayton State
1/20 - at Syracuse
1/23 - North Carolina
Swimming and Diving:
1/21 - Queens
Indoor Track and Field:
1/21-22 - at South Carolina (Carolina Challenge)
1/21 - Georgia State
1/23 - The Citadel
1/22 - Georgia Southern