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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
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