A look at the SEC championship

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Another congratulations to the Georgia men's tennis team on its 34th SEC title yesterday! After some quick math, we learned that 147 UGA lettermen have now won at least one SEC title during their time playing in Athens, while head coach Manuel Diaz now has 21 of those - 13 regular season, 8 tournament. That's a pretty darn good track record for both the players and their head coach! The Bulldogs will now await what happens at the NCAA selection show on May 1, already secured an automatic bid and, for all intents and purposes, a regional hosting bid before the Round of 16 heads to Athens May 17-28.

Just a few things worth looking at from yesterday: recap & video package here
-Chip Towers blog: Georgia 'peaking at right time'
-Red & Black account here
-Video of match point

SEC Men's Tennis All-Tournament Team

*Hernus Pieters, Georgia
*Ignacio Toboada, Georgia
Tom Jomby, Kentucky
Anthony Rossi, Kentucky
Nik Scholtz, Ole Miss
George Coupland, Mississippi State

*MVP: Ignacio Toboada, Georgia

SEC golf sneak peek

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By Steve Colquitt

The SEC Men's Golf Championships will be held Friday through Sunday at Sea Island Golf Club on Sea Island. Rob Matre, an accomplished golf photographer, shared with us a hole-by-hole look at the course. Take a look -- and it will make you wish you were a golfer from the SEC.

Swinging for Shepherd

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By Whitney Tarpy

Current and former Bulldogs recently put together a home run derby for a good cause. "Swinging for Shepherd" took place on Sunday, April 1 at softball's Jack Turner Stadium following the conclusion of the game against Florida. Kristyn Sandberg, Alisa Goler, Tori Moody, Dallas Lee, Anne Marie Armstrong, Jasmine James, Emilie Burger, Mary Katelyn Williams, Laura Guest, Will Dyer, & Meghan Purvis helped put the event together while participants included Goler, Taylor Schlopy, Bri Hesson, Tori Moody and Ben Jones as well as former Gator softball player Francesca Enea.

Ben Jones Hitting 01.jpg

The event also included a silent auction with most items being signed apparel. Ranging from game worn cleats, batting gloves and jerseys, the John Hancocks included lots of softball greats like Jennie Finch, Jessica Mendoza, Cat Osterman and more.

Though former Gator Enea technically won the derby, everybody who helped with this great cause was the real winner. Between each hitter having two sponsors at $5 a hit, percentage night at YoDawgs, auction items and outside donations, they raised over $2,100 dollars for the Shepherd Center.

Whirlwind weekend

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Suffice it to say this weekend has already started off as a whirlwind here in the UGAAA and there's no end in sight! Starting with this afternoon's luncheon honoring football great Charley Trippi and continuing with tonight's inaugural Circle of Honor Gala, there are enough "extra-curricular" activities to keep us busy without even mentioning all the sports competing! Baseball, tennis, track & field, equestrian, softball, soccer... oh, and something called GDay? Yeesh!

To keep up with all of that, be sure you're following us online at @UGAAthletics and @UGAHedgesBlog for everything you need! And please, if you're tweeting about the spring game tomorrow, use the hashtag #GDay2012 to join the conversation about the game!

Have a great (busy) weekend and GO DAWGS!

ESPNU Campus Connection

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Tonight's baseball game vs. Ole Miss will serve as a great test for the Diamond Dogs, and will also serve as a great test for some University of Georgia students who are participating in ESPNU Campus Connection. The game will air at 7:30 p.m. on ESPNU, with UGA students teaming with television professionals to make the broadcast happen from top to bottom - camera operation, sideline reports, everything.


Last night, participants met with ESPNU's senior production manager Acie Wyatt to go over assignments for the game. Wyatt explained that the program strives to give viewers a glimpse into life as a student of that particular school, and that the end result is for the students to have fun, learn, and network as they seek a career in the field. From ESPN's perspective, Wyatt said they try to "pull the curtain back" to show all that goes into a broadcast. Wyatt also told the students to remember that although they each will be paired with a staff member, they are not merely shadowing.

"You are a part of the group," he said.

If you can't make it out to Foley Field for the game, be sure to tune in to ESPNU at 7:30 p.m. and remember the broadcast is happening with the help of our own UGA students! And you can also follow the live chat tonight by clicking here.

Go Dawgs!

Recap: Student-athlete awards banquet

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By Aimee Russo, UGA Sports Communications

The University of Georgia Athletic Association honored student-athletes from all 21 varsity sports at the annual awards banquet held at the Tate Center Grand Ballroom on Monday evening.

Several special recognition awards were announced, including the athlete of the year, presented to winners swimming's Mark Dylla of Littleton, Colo., and Marta Silva Zamora of Santiago de Compostela, Spain from women's golf.

Also, highlighting the banquet were the men's cross country and women's swimming and diving teams who were the recipients of the Faculty Athletics Representative Award for earning the highest team grade point average (GPA). 
Joel Eaves Award winners, football's Ty Frix of Calhoun, Ga.,swimming's Wendy Trott of Capetown, South Africa, and cross country's J.P. Hackney of Marietta, Ga., were recognized for earning the highest GPA for amale and female student-athlete. The gymnastics team was also awarded the Bulldog Cup for participation in community service, leadership programs, and support of other teams.
Other special award winners include:
Marilyn Vincent Scholar-Athlete Award: Erica Malagón, Athens, Ga., and Wendy Trott, Capetown, South Africa, women's swimming and diving.
Dick Bestwick Scholar-Athlete Award: J.P. Hackney, Marietta, Ga., men's cross country/track and field.
Clifford Lewis Leadership Award: Wendy Trott, Capetown, South Africa, women's swimming and diving.
Dick Copas Leadership Award: Ty Frix, Calhoun, Ga., football.
Hornsby Howell Community Service Award: Noel Couch, Towaco, N.J., gymnastics.
SEC Boyd McWhorter Postgraduate Scholarship winner and nominee: J.P. Hackney, Marietta, Ga., men's cross country/track and field and Wendy Trott, Capetown, South Africa, women's swimming and diving.
SEC Brad Davis Postgraduate Scholarship nominees: Aron White, Columbia, M.O., football and Kathleen Gates, Wilmington, N.C., volleyball.
UGA Sportsmanship Award: Chris Burnette, LaGrange, Ga., football and Laura Eddy, Atlanta, Ga., soccer.
Inspiration Award: Jarryd Wallace, Watkinsville, Ga., member of Bulldog cross country/track and fieldteam in 2008.
Athletes receiving recognition for earning all A's during their academic careers include Nicki Alexander, Atlanta, Ga., equestrian; Alex Andes, Atlanta, Ga., equestrian; Samantha Belcher, Carbondale, Colo., equestrian; Madison Berger, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., equestrian; Greg Bingham, Columbus, Ga., football; Olivia Boggs, Smyrna, Ga., women's swimming and diving; Jenna Buckley, Atlanta, Ga., soccer; Noel Couch, Towaco, N.J., gymnastics; Matthew Degenova, Kenner, La.; football; Kathleen Eastman, Jackson Hole, Wy., soccer; Hadley Ferguson, Fernandina Beach, Fla., women's cross country/track and field; Will Freeman, Atlanta, Ga., men's swimming and diving; Ty Frix, Calhoun, Ga., football; Andrew Gemmell, Wilmington, Del., men's swimming and diving; Jessica Hale, Marietta, Ga., track and field; Julia Hemingway, Alpharetta, Ga., equestrian; Morgan Justiss, Alpharetta, Ga., equestrian; Lauren Herring, Greenville, N.C., women's tennis; Marrion Kalafut, Acworth, Ga., women's cross country/track and field; Alisha Laing, Schoolcraft, Mich., volleyball; Maddie Locus, Sugarland, Texas, women's swimming and diving, Erica Malagón, Athens, Ga., women's swimming and diving; Jordan Mattern, Aurora, Colo., women's swimming and diving; Michelle McKeehan, Greenwood, Ind., women's swimming and diving; Bret McDaniel, Atlanta, Ga., women's cross country/track and field; Emily McNutt, Woodstock, Ga., women's cross country/track and field; Connor Nolte, Alpharetta, Ga., men's basketball; Darcie O'Brien, Lawrenceville, Ga., women's swimming and diving; Jenna Owens, Highlands Ranch, Colo., soccer; Lucie Ondraschkova, Opava, Czech Republic, women's track and field; Sarah Perry, Lawrenceville, Ga., women's cross country/track and field; Camille Pfister, Kennesaw, Ga., gymnastics; Maria Palumbo, Alpharetta, Ga., soccer; Christian Riess, New Orleans, La., men's swimming and diving; Maria Salazar, Portland, Ore., equestrian; Kate Skoglund, Tualatin, Ore., equestrian; Rachel Stallman, Atlanta, Ga., equestrian; Kelsie Stovall, New Orleans, La., women's track and field; Paige Stawicki, Argyle, Texas, equestrian; Ali Sullivan, Wilton, Conn., equestrian; Wendy Trott, Capetown, South Africa, women's swimming and diving; Shannon Vreeland, Overland Park, Kansas, women's swimming and diving; Allison Updike, Nesquehoning, Pa., women's track and field; Shayla Worley, Orlando, Fla., gymnastics.
Academic Achievement honorees include:
Baseball: Colby May, Guyton, Ga.
Basketball: Matt Bucklin, Marietta, Ga., and Meredith Mitchell, Midfield, Ala.
Equestrian: Honey Beth Campbell, Gainesville, Ga., and Jessica Buckko, Sarasota, Fla.
Football: Chris Burnette, LaGrange, Ga., Reuben Faloughi, Martinez, Ga., Tavarres King, Mount Airy, Ga., Cornelius Washington, Hephzibah, Ga., and Parker Welch, Jesup, Ga.
Golf: Michael Cromie, Cary, N.C., and Abby Johnson, Buford, Ga.
Gymnastics: Kaylan Earls, Chicago, Ill.
Swimming and Diving: Bobby Chambliss, Dunwoody, Ga., Adam Parker, Maryville, Tenn., Lauren English, LincolnPark, N.J., and Ansley Long, Kennesaw, Ga.
Soccer: Ashley Baker, Lilburn, Ga.
Softball: Ashley Pauly, Kennesaw, Ga.
Tennis: Ignacio Taboada, Atlanta, Ga., and Alina Jeromina, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Track: Waymon Storey, Atlanta, Ga., Miles Svoboda, Marietta, Ga.

Bubba Watson's Monday press clippings

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There's no shortage of things that can be said about Bubba Watson's performance yesterday at the Masters, what it meant for Bubba and what it meant for us here at Georgia. It's always amazing to watch former players excel at the highest level after they leave Athens - it speaks to the experience they had here and how they were shaped as a player. It happens all the time with John Isner, and Big John is never shy of sporting a Georgia cap or mentioning how lucky he is to have opted for college tennis. But not wanting to repeat what's already been said, here's our best collection of Bubba press clippings from the past 24 hours. Hope you enjoy - and what a great day to be a Georgia Bulldog!

My personal favorite, from our local paper the Athens Banner-Herald...

Q&A: Drake Bernstein

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In this edition of the Between The Hedges Q&A, we check in with former men's tennis standout Drake Bernstein - who is now the assistant women's tennis coach at the University of Alabama. Bernstein was back in town with the Crimson Tide for last Friday's dual match, and we caught up with the All-SEC and career 100-match winner.

BtH: So this is your first season spent out of Athens, and Winder even before that--how does it feel coming back?

Bernstein: It's good. This place is still home in a lot of ways, being around the courts especially. It's different from being on the other side of it, both coaching and not being at Georgia.

BtH: Definitely must have a different feel not being here. What do you miss most about Athens?

Bernstein: This tennis center, probably. I've spent a lot of time here, growing up watching the matches, learning the tradition, and then getting to be a part of it. That's the most special thing for me. Everything else is great, but this is the first place I go when I come back and what stands out for me.

BtH: How's being a coach somewhere else treating you?

Bernstein: It's awesome, I love it. We've got a really good team, all hard workers and good listeners. The best part for me has been the head coach, Jenny Mainz, who has help me so much. She's been so patient, took a chance on hiring a younger guy for a women's team, and she's made it really easy for me to coach.

BtH: What's your favorite part of coaching, as opposed to playing?

Bernstein: Maybe that I get the chance to affect more than one court at once. Obviously when you play, you try to be supportive of the guys on the courts next to you, but now I can actually give insight and influence multiple courts at once. Hopefully you can help get more than just one point for the team.

BtH: You still miss playing, right?

Bernstein: Yeah, totally. All these big matches stuck at three-all, you really wish you were out there playing. I do miss it, but the time that I had here was special, and I got plenty of it in.

BtH: How do you think Manny [Diaz] has helped you prepare for this transition from player to coach?

Bernstein: Manny's one of the best, if not the best, coaches in college. He and [Associate Head Coach] Will Glenn showed me about what it takes to coach, how to handle a team. We never overlooked anybody, nor did we give anybody too much respect. You try to play all the matches the same. And Jenny's the same way--treat every match as if it's any other match when you play. Another thing about Manny is he gave me good perspective about how important it was at the end of the day. If you lose a tennis match, or win one, the world's not going to end. He's done that for me and I hope I can do the same for these girls.

BtH:  You might have an opportunity to come back here next month for the NCAA Championships. What would that mean to you?

Bernstein: Yeah, we've got a good shot with a good team. It's been their goal since the beginning of the year to be here in May, and as we're ranked now we're in, but there's a lot of tennis we've got to play between now and then. Hopefully we can move up in the rankings instead of kind of hanging out where we're at and cement ourselves here.

BtH: Thanks a bunch. Good luck!

-By Eliot Beckham

Interview with Georgia's NCAA champ

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Georgia swimmer Martin Grodzki became just the third Bulldog win multiple NCAA titles in a career - and he did so in the same meet - winning both the 1,650 free and the 500 free at the 2012 NCAA Championships. Grodzki's time of 14:24.08 in the 1,650 gave him the title over Stanford's Chad LaTourette and broke the U.S. Open and NCAA records of 14:26.62 set by Michigan's Chris Thompson all the way back in 2001. Grodzki's swim also broke the UGA record of 14:26.86 set in 2008.

Grodzki recently sat down for this interview with Swimming World Magazine. Check it out in its entirety here!

Q&A: Director of Event Management Christie Purks

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In this edition of the Behind The Hedges Q&A, we sat down with Director of Event Management Christie Purks. With two degrees from UGA and with her vast experience including serving as the meet director of the 2001 and 2008 NCAA Gymnastics Championships in Athens, Purks has just about seen and done it all in her time in the UGAAA.

BtH: So you're the Director of Event Management - could you take us through your average day?

Purks: Well...

BtH: Is there no such thing as an average day?

Purks: That would be very true. There's a lot of variety--you can kind of put my job into two categories: one is the daily planning that involves being in the office, drafting memos and having meetings, and then the other portion is when I'm out at the events, at the tennis or basketball court. Those days are more troubleshooting and problem-solving, taking care of issues as they come up as opposed to the planning of the other category.

BtH: Do you have a favorite subpart of either part?

Purks: I like being out of the office. There's a lot of variety, you come in contact with lots of different people. It's not that it's easier, because you're dealing with problems, but I do enjoy being out. I would not do well sitting behind a desk every day, so that's one reason why I've kind of been drawn to this job.

BtH: How did you come to be at UGA?

Purks: I have two degrees from the University--I was a Public Relations major as an undergrad and later got my graduate degree in Sport Administration. I had the good fortune one summer as an undergrad to work for the athletic department as a student intern. That got my foot in the door and gave me the opportunity to meet Lewis Gainey, who at the time was the Assistant Athletic Director for Event Management. When I got done with classes for my graduate degree, I needed an internship to complete the program. Lewis offered one to me helping plan a swimming and diving national championship and, once I was done, offered me a full time job.

BtH: You've coordinated several other national championships across a variety of sports, right?

Purks: I have! I tell students who come talk with me that that's what I consider myself most fortunate for being able to work at Georgia, because we host a lot of postseason events. Many institutions just don't have the resources, either staff-wise or financially, to be able to host these kinds of events, but the University of Georgia has always taken pride in hosting postseason events so I feel like I've actually been given the opportunity to plan big events on a big stage at UGA. Maybe my favorite - well, I shouldn't say favorite - maybe the largest event I've gotten to handle was the 2008 Women's Gymnastics National Championship.

BtH: Which Georgia won.

Purks: We did win, which is always nice.

BtH: When you say it's not your favorite, is it because you have a different one, or because you're not going to pick favorites?

Purks: I won't pick favorites. I've done two gymnastics championships, two swimming and diving national championships, and a tennis one, too. They're all different and unique and come with their own stories. But that one was by far the largest I've had to coordinate and put on.

BtH: What's the hardest part--is it that kind of size and scale?

Purks: That's one part of it--with the gymnastics, we tried very hard to replicate the way it's done at the Olympics, with the gymnasts competing on podiums that had to be constructed from scratch. It brought about lots of different challenges for the facility, we had to build the platforms and rearrange seating in the arena. Way different than a regular season gymnastics meet.

BtH: A lot of tough logistics and planning must go into these events. What's something you like to do to relax, your favorite part of Athens?

Purks: Well, I grew up in Atlanta, so I do like the big city life, but it's replicated really well for scale here. And Athens has a lot of great restaurants, that's definitely my favorite part. But I also went to school here and loved it, and I just feel like I'm one of the fortunate ones who got to hang around.

---By Eliot Beckham

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