April 11, 2014
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. --- On an eventful night in Tuscaloosa, the ninth-ranked Georgia men's tennis team posted a 4-0 shutout of No. 33 Alabama to hand head coach Manuel Diaz the 600th win of his storied career. Coupled with a loss for Texas A&M - with whom Georgia entered the night tied for first place in the conference - the Bulldogs also used the victory to clinch at least a share of the program's 37th Southeastern Conference championship.
Georgia tonight improves to 15-6 (10-1), and can secure the SEC title outright on Sunday with a win at No. 29 Auburn.
"It's most meaningful for a lot of little reasons," said head coach Manuel Diaz. "We had three guys who went to the doctor last week and played through a tough, difficult week. To me that really shows the heart of this team. The things they have worked hard for came through today by cinching at least a tie for the SEC championship. I know they don't want to settle for a tie, so we'll try to have a great performance on Sunday. I really enjoy this group of guys. They are coming together and playing their best tennis of the season, and we want to keep that going."
The teams played a tight doubles point to start the match, with Georgia ultimately emerging with the early point thanks to two tiebreaker victories at Nos. 1 and 3. The No. 1 team of Hernus Pieters and Ben Wagland were first off, winning 8-7(3) over Becker O'Shaughnessey and Daniil Proskura, before the No. 3 team of Eric Diaz and Austin Smith posted an 8-7(5) win over Andrew Goodwin and Nikko Madregallejo to clinch it.
The Bulldogs then cruised in singles, winning five of six first sets. Georgia jumped to a 2-0 lead as Nick Wood beat Goodwin, 6-2, 6-0, at No. 5, and the lead moved to 3-0 when Wagland defeated Stuart Kenyon, 6-3, 6-4, at No. 4. The clinch then came from Pieters - his team-leading fifth of the season - as he defeated Hayes Brewer, 6-2, 6-3, at No. 6 to seal the 4-0 sweep and the historic night for the program.
Alabama drops to 11-13 (4-7) on the season, while UGA improves to 52-6 all-time vs. the Crimson Tide.
A win for Georgia on Sunday would give the Bulldogs sole possession of the regular season championship - the program's league-leading 37th overall title, 28th regular season title, and Diaz's 24th.
Tonight Diaz became just the ninth Division I men's tennis head coach to record 600 career wins. He is 600-128 in his 26 seasons, good for a winning percentage of 0.824.
Sunday's match vs. the Tigers is set for 2 p.m. ET at the Yarbrough Tennis Center. Live scoring and video will be available from AU on Georgiadogs.com.
#9 Georgia 4, #33 Alabama 0
1. #25 Daniil Proskura (UA) vs. #18 Austin Smith (UGA) 6-7 (3-7), unfinished
2. #98 B. O'Shaughnessey (UA) vs. #32 Nathan Pasha (UGA) 6-3, 4-4, unfinished
3. Nikko Madregallejo (UA) vs. #73 Garrett Brasseaux (UGA) 4-6, 2-3, unfinished
4. #76 Ben Wagland (UGA) def. Stuart Kenyon (UA) 6-3, 6-4
5. Nick Wood (UGA) def. Andrew Goodwin (UA) 6-2, 6-0
6. Hernus Pieters (UGA) def. Hayes Brewer (UA) 6-2, 6-3
1. #12 Ben Wagland/Hernus Pieters (UGA) def. #22 B. O'Shaughnessey/Daniil Proskura (UA) 8-7 (7-3)
2. Stuart Kenyon/Sean Donohue (UA) vs. Nathan Pasha/Garrett Brasseaux (UGA) 7-7 (2-1), unfinished
3. Eric Diaz/Austin Smith (UGA) def. Andrew Goodwin/Nikko Madregallejo (UA) 8-7 (7-5)
Georgia 15-6, 10-1 SEC; National ranking #9
Alabama 12-13, 4-7 SEC; National ranking #33
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3); Singles (5,4,6)