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Bulldogs to host more championships

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**Very exciting news out of Athens today as UGA was selected to host the 2014 NCAA Men's & Women's Tennis Championships as well as one of the 2014 NCAA Gymnastics Regionals. Georgia consistently bids on hosting opportunities, and is often awarded those championships. The Bulldogs have hosted the tennis tournament more than any other school in the country - now 30 times for either men, women, or both. We know the players and coaches and are pumped and the staff is already updating its to-do lists!**

Below is the full release that ran on Georgiadogs.com today.

Also noteworthy, Georgia will host the 2013 NCAA Women's Golf Championships this spring.

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ATHENS, Ga. --- The University of Georgia will host the 2014 NCAA Men's & Women's Tennis Championships as well as a 2014 NCAA Gymnastics Regional, according to an announcement from the NCAA on Thursday.

The Dan Magill Tennis Complex has hosted the men's tournament 24 times and the women's event three times, in addition to three combined tournaments for a total of 30, most recently in both 2010 and 2012. The event has been combined since 2006. The Georgia men's tennis team has won six NCAA titles on the men's side - five of which came while playing in Athens. The women claimed the national title in 1994 and 2000 - the former coming at home.

The NCAA has recognized a national champion in men's tennis every year since 1946. It has done so in tournament format since 1977. The first women's championship was held in 1982. The tournaments have undergone some changes since their inceptions, including moving from a 16-team field to the current 64-team field in 1999. The first two rounds are held at on-campus sites, followed by the Round of 16 and beyond at the designated NCAA Championship site.

In the inaugural men's tournament held at the University of Georgia, Stanford defeated UCLA in the team portion while the Cardinal's Matt Mitchell was the singles champion and Bruce Manson and Chris Lewis of Southern California claimed the doubles crown. In the first women's tournament, Stanford defeated UCLA in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Cardinal's Alycia Mouton won the singles championship and the Bruins duo of Heather Ludloff and Lynn Lewis took the inaugural doubles honor.

"We are extremely excited to have been selected again," said 25th-year men's tennis head coach Manuel Diaz. "It's a credit to the many wonderful people in our athletic department who make the event so special, as well as all the volunteers in our community and the fans from around the country who make it the best collegiate event in our sport. Our athletic director [Greg McGarity] and everyone here at UGA are committed to continuing to host championships."

"This is fantastic news for the University of Georgia and the community of Athens. We're very excited and honored to host the incredible NCAA Tennis Championships again," said Jeff Wallace, in his 28th season as the head coach of the women's tennis team. "It all started with Coach Dan Magill in the 1970s and his vision to make Georgia the 'mecca of college tennis,' which it became under his leadership. Some of the greatest moments in our program's history have taken place at the complex that most deservedly bears his name. We're looking forward to having the nation's best players and teams come to Athens, and our staff and community always do a tremendous job of supporting the event."

Georgia is also one of six host sites for a 2014 NCAA Gymnastics Regional. The regional competition will be held at Stegeman Coliseum on Saturday, April 5, 2014. Teams and all-around competitors advancing out of the regional championships will compete at the 2014 National Collegiate Women's Gymnastics Championships in Birmingham, Ala., hosted by the University of Alabama and the Alabama Sports Foundation.

The other five host institutions for NCAA Regionals include Arkansas, LSU, Minnesota, Penn State and Washington. Georgia has served as host of a regional 11 times, most recently in 2011.

"To be able to host a regional championship is a bonus for our fans and our team," said first-year gymnastics head coach Danna Durante. "Georgia always puts on well-run championship events, and Stegeman Coliseum is an outstanding venue for a regional championship and the teams traveling in. Looking at our 2014 schedule, we have tough road meets against several national powers, so for us to be able to host regionals is really beneficial from a planning standpoint. We are looking forward to it."

May in Athens (and why we've been MIA)

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First of all, I wanted to take a second to apologize for the severe lack of blog posts to Between the Hedges over the last couple days/weeks. It's been a crazy time around here in the Athletic Department with all the sports either winding down or heating up, but I realize that despite that, this blog was created for the sole purpose of giving Bulldog fans and supporters a glimpse inside the goings-on at the UGAAA, so the lack of posting is not only inexcusable, but a giant missed opportunity.

It really seems like every time you turn around, one of the Georgia teams is doing something great this time of year. Track & Field just got back from the SEC Championships, where they posted the highest combined score in school history. Baseball earned a spot in the SEC Championships in Hoover, Ala., as the Bulldogs play their final home game tonight and their last SEC series this weekend at Alabama. Softball learned it will host an NCAA Regional this weekend. Men's golf is set to play its regional rounds this weekend, while Rocio Sanchez Lobato qualified for the NCAA Championships as an individual on the women's side. 

And then you have tennis. Ah, tennis in Athens in May.

The main reason I've been slacking at writing lately is the fact that we're hosting the 2012 NCAA Men's and Women's Tennis Championships here on campus, starting this Thursday and running through Memorial Day. Without being a math major, you can figure out that that's nearly two weeks of tennis. But I am definitely not complaining, because hosting the tennis tournament is without a doubt one of the highlights of my career (short as it may be) working in sports.

We hosted the tournament last in 2010, my first year at UGA, when I was still a grad assistant and horribly afraid of making a mistake in any area of my job, even more so with 32 tennis teams here competing in their biggest event of the year. I came to find that going through the planning process this year, I blacked out most of what happened in 2010. At the point you're working two weeks of 12+ hour days, it's hard to retain any more information besides that you survived and two teams won.

I think the most special part of the tournament is the fact that UGA has hosted it so many times. This will be the 30th time overall (men's, women's, or both), and as my good friend Coach Dan Magill would say, Georgia is the "mecca of college tennis." Back in the "good old days," Coach Magill made sure UGA had the best tennis facilities in the country so that Georgia would get the chance to host the tournament. Well, it did, and the folks here did such a good job that it kept coming back. Most years, the tournament has been in Athens, and whether you're one of the many who feel like it should be permanently based here, like the College World Series are in Omaha and Oklahoma City, or someone who feels that that would give the Bulldogs an unfair advantage, you have to appreciate the fact that this town turns upside down every third week of May in a hosting year.

Going through this a second time now, I can appreciate the fact that the tournament gets brought back to Athens because of history and tradition and because of Coach Magill, but also because Georgia is good at it. I was talking to our AD for event management Matt Brachowski for a Q&A a couple weeks ago - Matt doubles as the tournament director - and he made me aware of something very interesting. He said that he feels pressure to do a good job so that the tournament is awarded to Athens as a host site again. Thinking of it like that makes it so much easier to get through these crazy times. We all work together to make sure that the fans, media, and especially the participants have a good experience, and that we get the opportunity to host again. The work we do is a reflection on UGA, Athens, and the athletic department, and I don't think that's lost on anyone from the Athletic Director to the ticket takers to the promotions staff to the grounds crew to the ushers. Around here we've all heard stories about folks marking tournament week off in their calendars, that this tournament is truly a part of Athens, and means so much to the people who've been coming for years. We are working for those people. We can't let them down.

So, as I am about to head over to the courts to enter lock-down mode for the rest of May, I encourage you to come out to the Dan Magill Tennis Complex, even if it's just for one match or one hour. I promise you'll see right away how special the NCAA Tennis Championships are, and why coaches and players all around the country talk about how much fun they have when they qualify for the round of 16 and get to come play here. 

A full schedule is available right here. You won't be disappointed.

-Kate

Q&A with Matt Brachowski, NCAA Tennis Tournament Director

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ATHENS, Ga. --- Georgia's assistant athletic director for event management, Matt Brachowski, has been involved with the NCAA Tennis Championships since 1995, has served on the NCAA Tennis committee and as its chair, and is looking forward to hosting another great event in 2012. In this Q&A we check in with Brachowski to discuss what goes into hosting the tournament in Athens, as well as some of the challenges and his best memories.

 

Georgiadogs.com: What is your role at UGA, and how long have you been involved with tennis?

Matt Brachowski: At Georgia I am the assistant AD for event management, and the NCAA Tennis tournament director. The first tournament I worked was in spring 1995 when Coach [Dan] Magill was still working as the tournament director. After he retired from the Athletic Association, Coach [Manuel] Diaz and I sort of tag-teamed the position for a couple years, and 2000 was the first time I was the tournament director. I've been the director on the men's side in 2000, 2001, and 2003, and was the women's director in 2004 and 2005, and for both championships in 2007 and 2010. From Sept. 2004-Aug. 2008 I was a member of the NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Tennis Committee and was chair of that committee during the 2008 NCAA Championships.

 

GD: What is it like getting ready to host the tournament?

MB: Well, we've got to corral a bunch of crazy staff to make sure they're doing what they need to do! My role is to oversee the entire operation of the championships and stay in touch with the different departments to see what they need. We try to plan and direct everything so that the event can run well and be bigger and better than the previous year. We work with the ticket office, promotions, sports information, facilities, and everyone - bringing all the different parts together and giving everyone the resources they need to do their jobs.

 

GD: How about once it starts?

MB: Once we're on site, there's still the overview of running the operations of the event. I'll work with the folks on the ground - ticket takers, ushers, media staff - and help visiting teams and participants with everything they need. I want to be a resource. We're also the liaison to the NCAA and the committee to make sure their policies they want enforced for the championship are being met. Even though we're the host of the championship, this is still the NCAA's event and we have to follow the policies and procedures they set.

 

GD: What are the biggest challenges you've faced since you started doing this?

MB: The biggest challenges are always the things you hadn't thought of or hadn't had to face before. You have to deal with things in an efficient manner, and come up with solutions that will be the best for all parties involved. With an outdoor championship like tennis, you obviously try to do the best you can with weather, and even if it's a practice day, you make sure the 32 teams who need to practice can get court times some way, somehow. You have to help the teams as much as possible and do all we can for them. The other challenges are just being available. With this kind of event, there are a lot of long hours for the people working and you've got to be sure you're ready for the next day. There are usually some early wakeup calls, and we've finished matches at 2 or 3 a.m. and then you've got to be back in the morning. I think everything can be a challenge - it's how you deal with it either beforehand or how it occurs that dictates if it's something easily overcome or if it gives you more trouble than it should.

 

GD: Do you feel comfortable now that you've done this so many times, or do you still get anxious?

MB: With my personality, I never feel comfortable. I always think of things that need to be done, or what we can do to have a positive impact on the championships and the participants. It's never a guarantee you're going to get to host again, and we need to do what we can do to have a positive impact so that we're in a position to be awarded the chance to host again in the future.

 

GD: A lot of people say the tournament belongs in Athens. Does that make you proud?

MB: It makes you feel good when people recognize the job you do and think you do it well. There's a segment of the college tennis population that always comes to Athens and think it should remain in the discussion for a rotation or on a permanent basis, but in the last 10 years it's been a rotational basis. A lot of current coaches and players have gotten used to that, but there's also another segment that enjoys the opportunity to go to 2 or 3 different places over a four-year career and not play here every year. They want to travel and see different venues. There are also a lot of schools out there trying to improve their facilities so that they can host. Much like the Super Bowl or the All-Star Game, teams build facilities and want the chance to showcase them. I think that's good for the growth of college tennis.

 

GD: What is your best memory from the NCAA Championships?

MB: One that sticks out to me is one of the first years I was heavily involved - which was 1999. It just so happened to be one of the years Georgia was able to win on the men's side when it was a men's-only championship at that time. I remember during the ceremony after the event, Manuel had an interview or something and so the trophy wound up in my lap. I was just sitting on the court bench afterwards and with the trophy in my hands, I just had this feeling that I had had a little bit to do with it. With hosting, you try to take as much off the coach's plate as you can, and I felt like we'd let Coach Diaz focus on coaching tennis - that's his role and should be his role. For whatever reason I just felt a little self-gratification that I'd had a little impact on winning that year.


The 2012 NCAA Men's and Women's Tennis Championships will be held at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., May 17-28. 

Checking in with NCAA tennis coaching legend Dick Gould

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With the NCAA Men's & Women's Tennis Championships just around the corner, we checked in with former Stanford University head men's tennis coach Dick Gould, who now works as the Director of Tennis for the Cardinal. Gould was the head coach for 38 years and won 776 matches and 17 NCAA team championships. In this Q&A Gould talks about the tournament, his memories of playing in Athens, his longtime friend and coaching rival Dan Magill, and more.

 

Thanks to Stanford sports information director Brian Risso for conducting the interview.

 

On his current role...

"When I retired from coaching after 38 years, I decided I didn't want to stop working. So I created a job description that I thought would really help the coaches who were succeeding me. As Director of Tennis, I would have the responsibility of overseeing the facility, in addition to efforts with stewardship and fundraising, and whatever else was needed to make the program run well. I think it's very fair that I'm not involved in recruiting; a parent doesn't want to talk to someone who isn't going to be there full-time as a coach for their son or daughter. So I have no recruiting responsibilities, but if a coach brings by a player to say hello or something, I'm more than happy to greet them. But when I was coaching, there were a lot of outside factors that really impacted what I was doing on the court or could do with the team. A lot of this is my own doing. I really enjoyed making the schematics for the stadium and developing the stadium additions. I really enjoyed the fundraising and stewardship aspect, and working toward some kind of a goal or endpoint. But it did take a lot of time. So I figured it would be nice if I could continue to do this, and at the same time relieve our coaches of the responsibility. That gives me time to be creative in what I do and still represent Stanford well. My current role allows me more time for public appearances and speaking engagements, either nationally or around Northern California. That also includes developing our online court reservation system and refining our video streaming. So my current role has allowed me the flexibility to do those things."

 

On going to Athens this season...

"I'll be going back to Athens, probably getting there around the start of the women's and men's quarterfinals. My schedule doesn't allow me to take more than a few days away, but I will also certainly be present for the ITA Hall of Fame induction ceremony, with Dan Magill and two of our players, Patrick DuPre and David Wheaton being inducted. I want to see our teams compete, so hopefully they are both able to make it there. I just want to be there and soak it all in. Pick up different ideas here or there. What are they doing over there that would help us if we were to host again under my administration? Of course, the University of Georgia does such a great job and there is an incredible amount of tradition with the NCAA Championships there in Athens."

 

On memorable moments from NCAA's at Athens...

"One moment that sticks out in my mind was a loss in the finals. In 1984, we were playing a very, very good UCLA team, with a terrific doubles team of Mark Basham and Michael Kures at No. 1. In those days, the match was a best of nine and doubles was played second. Everything was done, the No. 1 match was on court and I think John Letts and Jim Grabb were playing for us. Kures from UCLA is standing in the ad court with the biggest forehand you have ever seen. It was tied up in the third set for the national championship. Letts was serving and his serve could go out a little bit, so I wanted to give him a safe serve. It was no-ad scoring and break point for everyone- if they broke us, they would be serving for the match or if we held, we would have gotten by a game that was a struggle for us to win. So there were a couple reasons I called a first serve to the center tee, which was Michael's forehand. However, Michael hit that ball so hard it came back before John could take a step into the court. I did that because the net was lower, it was a pretty safe serve with little angle for a return and I thought there might be an element of surprise because nobody would ever serve it there. But he hit that ball so far with his big forehand and that was it.

Later on, we're sitting around, talking with UCLA after their postgame celebration. I said, 'Michael, did you know that ball was going there?' He looked at me and said, 'Coach, I've played against you for several years and I know what you're going to do. I knew you were going to have that ball go to my forehand. So it turned out to be one of the dumbest calls I made. Probably cost us a great chance at a championship. You remember some of those things more than any wins. Another moment I think was the relief I felt when we won the tournament during the year (1978) that John McEnroe, Bill Maze and Matt Mitchell were our top three players. That was a very different kind of a feeling. It was more a feeling of relief, that we actually got through the tournament and won it. Even more than the joy of the moment."

 

About Athens, relationships with fans/coaches, treatment he receives as a rival coach...

"You have to always enjoy going to Athens. It's always a thrill to walk around there and see what they may have added, what's new, etc. It really gave their program credibility. They started getting good once they began hosting the championships and doing a fine job with it. Dan Magill did an extremely good job of staging the tournament and coaching. That was one thing- I really wanted to host the tournament but I didn't feel like I could do that and coach at the same time. So immediately when I resigned, one of the stipulations was that we would be able to bid on the tournament. Plus, we really wanted to do it with the men and women together. You go to Athens every year or every other year, and form friendships with fans, coaching and staff. I just have always loved the atmosphere back there. I never bought into this thing of coaches have to hate their rivals, that we have to hate Cal or UCLA. You respect them but you don't hate an opponent. If it weren't for the opponent, we'd have nobody to play against. Tennis coaches are really just fun-loving guys in general. I really respected the guys I coached against. We would trade ideas even back then. I was a young guy starting out, so I'd try to steal what they were doing."

 

On Dan Magill, on and off the court...

"Dan is one of the most incredible individuals I've ever met. First of all, he has an unbelievable memory for sports trivia. He was once even the head SID at Georgia. Dan really got their athletic program on the map. He's just a great story-teller. I could remember being in the car with him, several times, begging a ride somewhere and just listening to Dan and some of those guys tell stories about some of the battles they had on the court as rival coaches. It was just incredible for me to sit and listen to him. When he gets a hold of a mic, the room gets ready to fall off their chairs in laughter because he keeps it light and makes it fun."

"I would take it a step further and say that I don't know anyone who is a greater competitor than Dan. Sure, he's fun and nice and will give you that smile. But Dan really wants to win, and I really respected how he could do that and still be such a nice guy at the same time. We exchange mail a couple of times a year. He bleeds Georgia red. He's probably the most loyal person in the whole history of the university. When Dan retired, it was such a natural thing for him to become the curator of the Hall of Fame. That was a passion of his all the way along, as he was doing it while he was coaching. It was pretty much his idea; he founded it. Dan is still playing competitively at 90 years old, or at least I believe he was until recently. He is such a competitor. He'll say, 'Oh, last week I played in the 90 and over's and it was 104 degrees and humid, but I managed to pull it out. Of course, there was only one other guy alive in the tournament.' But he's just that kind of guy. Manny (Diaz) was lucky to have played for Dan. I think Manny picked up a ton of things from Dan. Everyone is their own person and of course, Manny does things in a class way, but a different way as well. College tennis will really miss Dan Magill. Not just as a coach, but his presence. One of those guys that makes college tennis such a great sport- that's Dan Magill."

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.

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Just a few things worth looking at from yesterday:

-Georgiadogs.com 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

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

Senior Day already

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Just got back from shooting men's tennis Senior Day interviews over at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. It's become somewhat of a tradition for our video team to put together videos in advance of each team's final home match to celebrate the careers of that graduating senior class, and today we sat down with the foursome of Sadio Doumbia, Will Reynolds, Wil Spencer, and Ignacio Taboada.

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This group is unique in that three of the four - Doumbia, Spencer, and Taboada - all transferred to Georgia last year and so they have only been playing together the past two seasons. That said, they've developed into one of the strongest senior classes in Bulldog history, with Doumbia a consistent winner at anywhere from 1-3 singles, Spencer a staple in the ITA top-10, and Taboada easily one of the toughest No. 4 players in the country with a glistening 16-1 dual match record in 2012. It's amazing to wonder where this Georgia team would be without the good fortune of having added those three guys two summers ago. It will be fun to watch them play their final regular-season home match in Athens this Sunday, and what makes it even better is that the Bulldogs are in the thick of chasing their 34th SEC championship!

Check Georgiadogs.com on Thursday for the feature!

Starting a new streak

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As the men's tennis team prepares to take on in-state foe Georgia Tech today at 4:00 p.m. in Lindsey Hopkins, the Athens Banner-Herald ran an article on the rivalry and how the fourth-ranked Bulldogs are aiming to get back on track vs. Tech after last year's heartbreaking 4-3 loss in Atlanta snapped Georgia's 24-match winning streak over GT dating back to Dan Magill's last season (1988).

To that end, head coach Manny Diaz said, "A lot of our guys are still thinking about last year's match that got away. Georgia Tech was just a fine, fine team. ... Last year, we had the lead in the deciding match, and we served for that match, so it's a painful memory for some of our players and a match we'd love to have back."

Read sports editor Chris White's full story here

In other news, the official UGA Athletics Twitter ran an interesting promotion today to get fans excited for the match, as the latest in their #tweetup series went like this:

@UGAAthletics:  is back! In tennis what do you call a score of 0? Find me at the UGA bookstore entrance & win $20 for a date night in Athens!

...that solicited the following responses:


 it's called love...hello from Asheville, NC



The first 200 fans in attendance today get "Wreck Tech" t-shirts. You can never have too many of those. Good luck to the tennis Dawgs today as they try to start another streak over the Yellow Jackets.
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