KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- With the match tied at 3-3, Georgia men's tennis sophomore Jan Zielinski delivered a 6-3, 7-6 (4) win to send the No. 2 seed Bulldogs past Florida and into the Southeastern Conference Tournament Championship for the third-straight season.
The win marks No. 13 Georgia's second victory against No. 14 Florida this season. The Bulldogs are now 16-7 overall, while the Gators fall to 17-9. On Sunday, the Bulldogs will be vying for their 10th SEC Tournament title and first since 2013. Georgia will face the winner of the matchup between No. 1 seed Texas A&M and No. 5 seed Mississippi State.
"I am so proud of our team," head coach Manuel Diaz said. "Florida came out really strong in singles after we won the doubles point, and our guys showed a lot of fight. It was a very physical match and was really the first time this season we have faced this kind of hot weather. It took a lot out of us, but we just fought through it and were able to hold off Florida at crucial times during the match."
Doubles started with a Florida win at the No. 2 position as Maxx Lipman and Elliott Orkin defeated Walker Duncan and Wayne Montgomery, 6-4.
The Bulldogs responded, highlighted by Robert Loeb and Jan Zielinski's third win over a top-5 team this season. The Georgia freshman/sophomore combo, which is currently ranked No. 2 nationally, took down the fifth-ranked UF duo of Alfredo Perez and Johannes Ingildsen, 6-4.
That victory by Zielinski and Loeb followed a 6-4 triumph by Paul Oosterbaan and Emil Reinberg - the tandem's second win in as many matches playing together this season.
Up 1-0 after doubles, Georgia's No. 1 singles player Nathan Ponwith retired due to a medical issue to put the score at 1-1. Reinberg then tallied his third-straight win of the year with a 6-2, 6-2 victory against Chase Perez-Blanco at the No. 3 court to put Georgia up 2-1.
That score did not last long as Loeb went down 6-3, 6-3 at No. 6 before Duncan fell, 6-4, 6-3 at No. 5 to put Florida up 3-2.
It would then come down to Montgomery at the second court and Zielinski at the fourth position as both players were locked in back-and-forth contests. Montgomery won the first set, 6-1, over Orkin and then fell in the second set 6-1 before rallying for a 6-1 win in the third set to even the contest at 3-3.
All eyes then turned to Zielinski, who won with relative ease, 6-3, in the first frame against Lipman. The second set proved to be a different story as the Poland native held off his Gator opponent in a 7-6 (4) second-set tiebreaker to put the Bulldogs into the championship match.
Georgia will now rest up for the SEC Tournament Championship, which is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.
Georgia 4, Florida 3
1. #8 Alfredo Perez (UF) def. #49 Nathan Ponwith (UGA) 2-1, retired
2. #31 Wayne Montgomery (UGA) def. #81 Elliott Orkin (UF) 6-1, 1-6, 6-1
3. #61 Emil Reinberg (UGA) def. Chase Perez-Blanco (UF) 6-2, 6-2
4. Jan Zielinski (UGA) def. Maxx Lipman (UF) 6-3, 7-6 (7-4)
5. Johannes Ingildsen (UF) def. Walker Duncan (UGA) 6-4, 6-3
6. McClain Kessler (UF) def. Robert Loeb (UGA) 6-3, 6-3
1. #2 Robert Loeb/Jan Zielinski (UGA) def. #5 Alfredo Perez/Johannes Ingildsen (UF) 6-4
2. Maxx Lipman/Elliott Orkin (UF) def. Wayne Montgomery/Walker Duncan (UGA) 6-4
3. Paul Oosterbaan/Emil Reinberg (UGA) def. Chase Perez-Blanco/Joshua Wardell (UF) 6-4
Order of finish: Doubles (2,3,1); Singles (1,3,6,5,2,4)