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Georgia Defeats No. 21 Alabama, South Carolina State in Doubleheader

Ryan Cullinane

Sports Communications Graduate Assistant

University of Georgia Athletic Association

The No. 48 Georgia men’s tennis team won both matches of its doubleheader on Friday, defeating No. 21 Alabama, 5-2, at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex and South Carolina State, 4-1, at the Lindsay Hopkins Indoor Tennis Facility.


No. 65 Ryan Colby clinched the first match of the day and of his Georgia (6-6, 1-2 SEC) career against Alabama’s (10-7, 0-2 SEC) No. 69 Enzo Aguiard, extending the Bulldogs’ home winning streak against the Crimson Tide to 22 matches. During the second match, Freddy Blaydes clinched his first win as well during the team’s first match in the newly renovated Lindsay Hopkins Indoor Tennis Facility against South Carolina State (4-5).


“Our guys showed a lot of resolve, and they’ve been fighting great all spring,” head coach Manuel Diaz said. “We’ve had some tough matches, but these guys are learning and getting more comfortable when things are difficult. We’ve had moments where we’re getting a nervous and forcing things a little bit. I think we’re finally starting to be comfortable in those situations, and tonight it paid off.” 


The Bulldogs earned the doubles point for the sixth time this season by taking victories on courts two and one against the Crimson Tide. On court two, Niels Ratiu and Ryan Colby picked up their 10th win together as they defeated Aguiard and Zach Foster, 6-4. Freddy Blaydes and Thomas Paulsell clinched the doubles point on court one with their first win against a ranked opponent in a 6-4 decision over No. 74 Filip Planinsek and Andrii Zimnokh.


The Bulldogs opened singles play by taking three first sets. No. 100 Miguel Perez Peña earned his second win in the last three matches after he defeated Matias Ponce De Leon in straight sets. The Crimson Tide put their first point on the board with a victory on court six, but Cyrus Mahjoob managed to pull out his eighth three-set win in a 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 result over Roan Jones on court five. 


All three remaining matches on the top courts were in the midst of tight third sets after Mahjoob notched his 17th win of the year. Alabama’s Zimnokh responded by beating Ratiu on court three before No. 65 Colby picked up his first clincher after he defeated his team-best eighth ranked opponent this season. The teams played out the remaining contest on court one. No. 82 Paulsell closed out the day’s first match with a marathon three-setter in a 6-4, 6-7(13), 7-6(5) victory over No. 46 Planinsek, tying his highest-ranked win. The three-hour, 26-minute match gave the Bulldogs their first Southeastern Conference win of the season. 


Georgia started their second competition with a 6-3 decision from Parker Jacques and Davis Taylor in doubles play, the tandem’s first win in the dual match slate. Facing a break point to head into a breaker, Freddy Blaydes and Niels Ratiu clinched the doubles point for the team with a 7-5 victory over Aissa Benchakroun and Benjamin Niv.


Georgia continued to impress in the second set of singles competition on Friday evening. Jacques defeated Gabriel Johnson by a 6-4, 6-3 score, marking his second win of the spring. Blaydes clinched the sixth win of the year for the team when he defeated Benchakroun 7-5, 6-2 on court three, capping off the team’s first indoor match in Athens since March 18, 2022.


“It’s always tough playing in that many matches,” Blaydes said, “After the first match, the key is to chill, take your time, eat well, recover. Doubles are always a sprint, but singles are more of a marathon. I think that you just have to be mentally prepared and stay on top of energy levels.”


Georgia returns to the Dan Magill Tennis Complex for another doubleheader on Sunday, March 10, with matches scheduled against No. 35 Auburn at 1 p.m. ET and Georgia State at 5 p.m. The Bulldogs are currently riding a 14-match win streak against the Tigers, while the Panthers have yet to beat Georgia, being swept in nine of the 13 matches in the series.


No. 48 Georgia 5, No. 21 Alabama 2

Doubles competition - Georgia Wins Point

1. Freddy Blaydes/Thomas Paulsell (UGA) def. No. 74 Filip Planinsek/Andrii Zimnokh (UA) 6-4*

2. Ryan Colby/Niels Ratiu (UGA) def. Enzo Aguiard/Zach Foster (UA) 6-4

3. Cyrus Mahjoob/Miguel Perez Peña (UGA) vs. Matic Dimic/Roan Jones (UA) 5-4, unfinished

Order of finish: 2, 1*

Singles competition

1. No. 82 Thomas Paulsell (UGA) def. No. 46 Filip Planinsek (UA) 6-4, 6-7 (13-15), 7-6 (7-5) 

2. No. 65 Ryan Colby (UGA) def. No. 69 Enzo Aguiard (UA) 3-6, 7-5, 6-3*

3. Andrii Zimnokh (UA) def. Niels Ratiu (UGA) 2-6, 7-5, 6-4

4. No. 100 Miguel Perez Peña (UGA) def. Matias Ponce De Leon (UA) 6-4, 6-1

5. Cyrus Mahjoob (UGA) def. Roan Jones (UA) 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 

6. Matic Dimic (UA) def. Freddy Blaydes (UGA) 7-6 (8-6), 6-1

Order of finish: 4, 6, 5, 3, 2*, 1


No. 48 Georgia 4, South Carolina State 1

Doubles competition - Georgia Wins Point

1. Freddy Blaydes/Niels Ratiu (UGA) def. Aissa Benchakroun/Benjamin Niv (SCSU) 7-5*

2. Novak Novakovic/Mikalai Bankou (SCSU) def. Filipe Costa/Cyrus Mahjoob (UGA) 6-5

3. Parker Jacques/Davis Taylor (UGA) def. Gabriel Johnson/Ivan Pauliuchenka (SCSU) 6-3

Order of finish: 3, 2, 1*

Singles competition

1. No. 100 Miguel Perez Peña (UGA) def. Novak Novakovic (SCSU) 6-1, 7-6 (8-6) 

2. Cyrus Mahjoob (UGA) vs. Mikalai Bankou (SCSU) 4-6, 6-1, 1-2, unfinished 

3. Freddy Blaydes (UGA) def. Aissa Benchakroun (SCSU) 7-5, 6-2*

4. Filipe Costa (UGA) vs. Benjamin Niv (SCSU) 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, unfinished

5. Parker Jacques (UGA) def. Gabriel Johnson (SCSU) 6-4, 6-3

6. Ivan Pauliuchenka (SCSU) def. Parker Mariencheck (UGA) 6-2, 2-6, 6-3

Order of finish: 5, 1, 6, 3*

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