Eric Diaz and the Bulldogs kick off dual match play this weekend.
Jan. 23, 2013
ATHENS, Ga. --- The sixth-ranked University of Georgia men's tennis team (0-0) is set to host one of 15 legs of the ITA Kickoff for the fifth straight season this Friday and Saturday, Jan. 25-26, at the Lindsey Hopkins Indoor Facility in Athens. The weekend serves as the dual match opener for UGA.
The Bulldogs will open against No. 39 Vanderbilt on Friday before facing either No. 32 VCU or No. 34 Minnesota Saturday. Georgia will play at 2 p.m. each day regardless of win or loss, while the other match will kick off at 9 a.m. both days. The winner of the weekend will earn a bid to the prestigious ITA National Team Indoor Championships next month.
Live scoring (all four matches) and the Georgia Tennis Live Chat (Georgia matches only) will be available on Georgiadogs.com for the duration of the event. All action is free and open to the public.
ABOUT THE ITA KICKOFF: The annual ITA Kickoff Weekend features 15 host sites with four teams at each site vying to advance to the 2013 National Team Indoor Championships. The 15 teams that win their two matches this weekend will be invited to play in the ITA National Team Indoor Championships Feb. 15-18 in Seattle. Host University of Washington will earn an automatic bid to round out the 16-team field.
The other 14 regional sites are Southern Cal, Virginia, UCLA, Ohio State, Pepperdine, Kentucky, Duke, Stanford, Oklahoma, Mississippi State, Florida, California, Ole Miss, and Illinois.
The Bulldogs have won the National Indoor twice (2006, `07) and have reached the finals six times (1982, `94, `95, `97, `98, and 2009). The tournament began in 1973 and Georgia has advanced to it every year except 2003. In 2012 Georgia moved out of the Kickoff Weekend with wins over TCU and Virginia Tech and went on to reach the semifinals of the Indoor, where it fell to eventual national champion Southern Cal.
LOOKING AT VANDY (No. 4 seed): Vanderbilt will travel to Athens ranked No. 39 and toting a 1-1 early-season dual match record following a season-opening sweep of Butler and a 6-1 loss to Michigan State.
Individually, the Commodores have three players ranked in singles, including No. 17 Ryan Lipman (12-4), No. 20 Gonzales Austin (10-4), and No. 114 Kris Yee (6-4).
Georgia is 47-4 all-time vs. Vandy, including last season's 7-0 win in Athens.
LOOKING AT VCU (No. 2 seed): Virginia Commonwealth enters the weekend ranked No. 32 - the second-highest in the field - and sporting a 4-0 record after a strong showing at the VCU 4x1 Invitational last week, where it victories over Campbell (4-0), Georgetown (5-0), Richmond (5-0), and James Madison (4-1).
The Rams are led by a trio of players in the singles poll, including Max Wennakoski at No. 45, Alexis Heugas at No. 67, and Jamie Vazquez Catoira at No. 113.
Georgia and VCU have never faced one another.
LOOKING AT MINNESOTA (No. 3 seed): The Golden Gophers are ranked No. 34 heading into the Kickoff Weekend, and stand at 1-0 following a season-opening 6-1 win over Northern Illinois Jan. 20.
Minnesota is led by Ruben Weber's 8-2 record, followed by a mark of 8-4 for Leandro Toledo and 9-4 for Rok Bonin.
Georgia is 5-0 all-time against UMN, though the teams haven't met since 1987.
LAST TIME OUT: The Georgia men's tennis team unofficially opened its spring campaign last weekend, competing in the National Collegiate Tennis Classic in Palm Springs, Calif., along with several other top tennis programs from around the nation.
The event followed a round robin format, and several Bulldogs turned in solid records - including freshman Ben Wagland, who went undefeated in singles play. Garrett Brasseaux, Eric Diaz, and KU Singh each won a combined four matches in singles and doubles.
RECAPPING THE FALL: The Georgia men's tennis team's fall season was highlighted by the run of junior Hernus Pieters and freshman Ben Wagland to the doubles final of the ITA National Indoor Championships in New York in November.
Earlier in the fall, the duo won the consolation draw of the All-American Championships in Tulsa to punch their ticket to Indoors, while sophomore Nathan Pasha won three qualifying matches to reach the singles main draw in Tulsa. Meanwhile, the four Bulldog freshmen played well at the Southern Intercollegiates, Bulldog Scramble, and ITA Southeast Regional as they gear up for their first collegiate dual match season.
IN THE RANKINGS: Georgia remained No. 6 in the ITA team rankings for the second week this spring on Jan. 22. With that, the Bulldogs have now been ranked in the top six every week since May 2, 2011 and in the top-10 since March 29, 2011.
Individually, Georgia boasts three players in the singles top 20 in KU Singh (No. 8), Hernus Pieters (No. 16), and Nathan Pasha (No. 19). In doubles, the team of Pieters and freshman Ben Wagland are No. 5 while Wagland is No. 29 with Pasha.
ON DECK: The Bulldogs will host Clemson on Thurs., Jan. 31 at 4 p.m. before hitting the road for two dual matches at Ohio State and Georgia Tech on Feb. 3 and 8, respectively.