Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wofford Terriers 1 at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 6 - NCAA Tennis - January 20, 2010

As you probably know, I like to see a sporting event every day on these sorts of trips. Despite the Atlanta Hawks hosting the Sacramento Kings in the evening, I was more interested in checking out an afternoon NCAA men's tennis match between Wofford and Georgia Tech.

The Georgia Tech Campus is located north of downtown Atlanta, close to the Midtown MARTA station. At the northeast corner of the campus, next to the Alexander Memorial Coliseum where the basketball team plays, is the Bill Moore Tennis Center. Consisting of 12 outdoor and 3 indoor courts, the facility has seating for 1,500 and has hosted several college tournaments since it was built in 1988.

The visiting Wofford Terriers are based in Spartanburg SC, and play in Division I in all athletic competitions except football, where they and other Southern Conference members play in the Football Championship Subdivision. Their campus hosts the Carolina Panthers' training camp. The Yellow Jackets are ranked #43 in the nation, while Wofford is unranked.

Arriving at the Tennis Center about 10 minutes before the 2 pm start time, I realized that tennis is not a big draw on campus. There were many 15 spectators at the outdoor courts, of which 10 were parents of the players. One fan was overheard to say that at least they are playing outside - I guess with the recent cold weather in Atlanta, matches would have been held on the indoor courts.

The NCAA tennis setup is to play 3 doubles matches first, then 6 singles matches after that. However, the doubles matches only count for 1 point total, and each match consists of just one best-of-fifteen set. The singles matches follow normal tennis rules and count for 1 point each. So there are 7 points up for grabs.

For the doubles matches, I concentrated on one match between Eliot Potvin and Dean O'Brien of GT who were taking on Alan Donald and Paul Bartholomy on court #1. Despite O'Brien having trouble closing out his service games (all of them went to deuce several times), the Georgia Tech tandem had no trouble with the Terriers twosome, winning 8-2. The other two matches were split, so the Yellow Jackets won the doubles point.

Eliot Potvin serves...

...returned by a Terrier

At this point, there was a break before the singles matches. The weather had turned chilly and there were rain clouds, so rather than wait around, we decided to head out and start the drive south. I didn't realize at the time that the doubles matches were only worth one point total and probably should have stayed for a bit of the singles action. But it was clear that Georgia Tech were better players, and they ended up taking 5 of 6 singles matches for the 6-1 overall victory.

Court #2

I was impressed with the quality of play here - these guys are good, although inconsistent. A lot of double faults and unforced errors, but also some really great passing shots and tennis play. As it was doubles, there were few rallies, but still an entertaining time, especially as it's free. The scoreboard showed only the sets, rather than points in each game, so you weren't sure what was going on exactly in the other matches, but what else would you expect in this environment.

Players made their own calls, although there did seem to be umpires there for mediation if required. They also had to fetch their own balls. Ah, the indignity of second-tier college sports.

Next Up

I'm now in Tifton, GA, waiting out a tornado warning before driving the final few hours to Tampa, where the Leafs take on the Lightning this evening. The next day sees an ECHL game in a suburb of Fort Myers before I hit Miami and watch the Leafs in their final game of the trip. Check back for more then.



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