ATLANTA, GA- After accepting a last-minute wildcard spot for his first singles ATP tournament, UGA rising senior Nathan Pasha was faced with the ultimate challenge: to get himself both physically and mentally prepared to face a top-100 player in just three days. Pasha’s teammate Austin Smith was originally given the WC in the 2014 BB&T Atlanta Open, but had to drop out of the tournament suddenly due to scheduling conflicts. Upon being informed Saturday evening that he would be taking Smith’s place, playing Lukas Lacko in the men’s singles first round on Tuesday, Pasha had mixed emotions, “…I started to feel excited and slightly nervous…I just need to hit as many balls as possible to get timing and fitness back.”
Pasha was broken early in the first set, which he eventually lost 2-6, but made a run in the second set, breaking Lacko to go up 5-3. After a series of double faults and unforced errors, Pasha dropped the last four games of the match, eventually losing 5-7. Later he admitted that the double faults got into his head, eventually getting the best of him, “You definitely think about it more…double faulting four times was definitely in my head.”
Pasha spoke highly of the love and support he’s felt ever since he accepted the spot, especially from his fellow bulldogs. John Isner, a 2007 UGA grad, former UGA tennis player, and no.1 seed in the BB&T Atlanta Open, put some of Pasha’s nerves to rest in the locker room leading up to the match, “he gave me some tips [on Lacko]…but mainly we just talked about the football season coming up.” Former Georgia football phenom Herschel Walker walked with Pasha to the court, where Nathan says he “just tried to pick Herschel’s brain the whole time…he had really good advice, he’s an awesome guy to learn from.” Aside from famous former bulldogs, Pasha said he received texts from his UGA teammates as well as players from other schools such as Virginia and LSU.