May 20, 2002
College Station, TX - In one of the most exciting dual matches of the 2002 season, the top-ranked Georgia Bulldogs edged fourth-seeded UCLA, 4-2 Monday evening in the semifinals of the NCAA Men's Tennis Championships at Texas A&M University. With the victory, Georgia (28-3) earns a spot in Tuesday's final and will take on 11th-seeded USC. The Trojans pulled off a 4-3 upset over second-seeded Tennessee earlier in the day. UCLA finishes its season with a 23-5 overall record.
Unlike UCLA's first two matches of the Championships, the Bruins ended up losing the doubles point following Georgia victories on court Nos. 1 and 3.
UCLA quickly answered in singles play as Jean-Julien Rojer registered a straight-set victory over Lesley Joseph at No. 5 singles.
The Bulldogs regained the lead moments later when No. 1-ranked Matias Boeker edged 10th-ranked Tobias Clemens of UCLA, 6-4, 7-6. Clemens actually had set point in the second set tiebreaker but was unable to force a third set.
With Georgia up 2-1, all four remaining singles matches were in a third set. Next to finish was court No. 6 where Nicolas Boeker registered a 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 victory over UCLA's Lassi Ketola, making the score 3-1 Georgia. Just moments later however, UCLA's Marcin Matkowski cut the lead to 3-2 with a 7-5, 6-7, 6-1 win over Bo Hodge in the No. 4 position.
Two singles matches remained and UCLA needed both to pull off the victory. With UCLA's Rodrigo Grilli up 5-2 in the third set of his match, all eyes focused on court No. 5 where Bruin junior Erfan Djahangiri and Georgia's Adam Seri were deadlocked at 4-4 in the third set. Seri, who had actually called an injury timeout at 4-4, pulled off some amazing shots in the last few games to edge Djahangiri, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 and secure the victory for Georgia.
"It's never fun to fall short of what you set out to achieve in anything," said UCLA head coach Billy Martin. "It hurts but we're resilient. I love coaching and the kids love playing so next year we'll give it another run."
Monday night's match was a battle between the top-2 ranked teams in the country. Despite their No. 4 seed, the Bruins are ranked No. 2 behind Georgia in the Omni Hotels Collegiate Tennis Rankings.