Feb. 12, 2014
HOUSTON --- The fourth-ranked Georgia men's tennis team (3-2) is headed to the prestigious ITA National Team Indoor Championships, set to compete against the nation's elite teams for a national title Feb. 14-17 at the Downtown Club at the Met and the Galleria Tennis Club in Houston. Texas A&M is the host of the event.
The fourth-seeded Bulldogs will face off against 13th-seeded Texas in round of 16 action, with first serve set for 1 p.m. ET on Friday. With a win, Georgia would meet the winner of the Ohio State and Florida match in quarterfinal action on Saturday. The semifinals are slated for Sunday and the final Monday.
Live scoring will be available on Georgiadogs.com, while the Georgia Tennis Live Chat will be rolling as long as the Bulldogs are in action. Teams are guaranteed to play at least three matches, either in the main draw or the consolation draw.
GEORGIA AT THE NATIONAL INDOORS: The Bulldogs are headed to National Indoors for the 11th straight season, and have now failed to do so just one time (2003) since the tournament began in 1973. Georgia has won two indoor championships, coming in back to back years in 2006 and 2007, while reaching the finals six times - most recently in 2009.
In 2013, Georgia fell to UCLA in the quarterfinals.
Georgia punched its ticket to the 16-team field by winning two matches at the ITA Kickoff Weekend in Athens Jan. 25-26, defeating Columbia and Stanford in the first and second rounds. The field is comprised of 15 other teams - 14 of which won their regional matches as well as the host Aggies with an automatic bid.
LOOKING AT THE LONGHORNS: Tenth-ranked and 13th-seeded Texas enters Friday's match with an overall record of 7-1. The Longhorns opened the season with seven straight wins, including three against SEC opponents Arkansas, Vanderbilt and Alabama. Texas was edged by Illinois in their last match, 4-3, in Urbana.
SERIES HISTORY: This is the 19th meeting all-time between Georgia and Texas, with the Bulldogs holding a 15-3 edge. The two teams last met in the quarterfinals of the 2009 NCAA Championships - a 4-2 Texas victory. The previous year, Georgia beat UT 4-2 in Tulsa, Okla., to win its sixth NCAA title.
LAST TIME OUT: The Bulldogs won the doubles point and never looked back en route to a commanding 7-0 sweep of No. 67 East Tennessee State last Thursday afternoon at the Lindsey Hopkins Indoor Facility. With the win, Georgia responded from two dual match losses last weekend on the West Coast to earn the commanding shutout victory.
The clinch came from sophomore Ben Wagland at No. 3 singles, while senior Hernus Pieters bounced back from a loss in the first set to complete the sweep. In the ETSU match, both Nathan Pasha and Austin Smith won their 20th singles matches of 2013-14.
IN THE RANKINGS: The Georgia men's tennis team came in at No. 3 in the 2014 ITA preseason rankings released on Jan. 2, and remained there in the two subsequent editions. On Feb. 4, the Bulldogs dropped one spot to No. 4, and no team rankings were released on Feb. 11 in advance of the National Indoors.
The Bulldogs return the top five singles players from last year's squad that reached the NCAA semifinals. It marked the third straight year Georgia has been ranked in the preseason top-five. UGA finished the 2013 season ranked third after the trip to the "Final Four."
In doubles, Hernus Pieters and Wagland are No. 31 in the latest poll.
ON DECK: The Bulldogs return home for a dual match vs. in-state rival Georgia Tech on Thurs., Feb. 27 at 2:30 p.m. in Athens. Weather permitting, the Tech match will serve as the outdoor opener.