Feb. 13, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. --- The fourth-ranked University of Georgia men’s tennis team (5-0) concludes its six-match season-opening homestand when it welcomes in-state rival Georgia Tech to the Lindsey Hopkins Indoor Courts for a 4 p.m. match on Tues., Feb. 14.
The Bulldogs are hoping to avenge last season’s 4-3 heartbreaker to Georgia Tech that snapped Georgia’s 24-match winning streak over the Yellow Jackets.
“The guys had some good practices this week and are excited about this challenge,” said 24th-year head coach Manuel Diaz. “Georgia Tech is a team that beat us last year, and we are hungry to really prove ourselves against our in-state rival. I also think this will be a good measuring stick for how we go into the National Indoors [Feb. 17-20], so it’s a big match for us.”
LOOKING AT THE YELLOW JACKETS: Georgia is a staggering 57-9 all-time against its rival from Atlanta, with 57 wins marking the most against any opponent. Prior to last season the Bulldogs hadn’t lost to Tech in 24 outings dating back to 1988 - the legendary Dan Magill’s last season at the helm.
The Yellow Jackets enter the mid-week match ranked No. 29 as a team, while Kevin King is ranked No. 9 in the singles poll and the team of King and Juan Spir is currently No. 2 in the nation.
Georgia Tech is 4-4 on the season with losses to a trio of top-20 teams in Tennessee, Auburn, and Illinois. King currently leads the team with a 21-4 record, including a 7-1 clip at No. 1 singles in dual match play. King and Spir lead the way in doubles at 12-2 and a perfect 7-0 a t No. 1 doubles.
LAST TIME OUT: The Georgia men’s tennis team improved to 5-0 on the 2012 season with a 6-1 win over William & Mary last Friday afternoon at the Lindsey Hopkins Indoor Courts.
Georgia won doubles for the fifth straight time while sophomore Hernus Pieters captured the match clincher for the first time this season. Redshirt freshman Eric Diaz saw the first dual match action of his career, winning at No. 6 singles.
HOT START: Georgia has started out the season undefeated at 5-0 - with its first three season-opening victories coming via scores of 7-0 and the last two coming 6-1. The last time a Georgia team started with three shutouts in a row was 2007, when the Bulldogs went on to win the NCAA championship with an undefeated 32-0 record, and the squad has began the season at 5-0 in six of the last seven years.
Georgia has won doubles in all five matches, going 12-1 so far in doubles while posting an impressive 28-2 ledger to date in singles.
MIXING IT UP: After a 2010-11 season in which the Bulldog doubles lineups were solidified early on, head coach Manuel Diaz has done some shuffling of his teams in 2011-12. After the fall season and three dual matches, Diaz’s Bulldogs have gone with 21 different doubles team combinations out of a total of 66 possibilities.
SPENCER’S RECORD WATCH: Georgia senior captain Wil Spencer is off to another spectacular start in 2012, winning his first three singles matches and second on the team with 21 victories on the year. Spencer sits just seven singles wins shy of reaching 100 for his career - having played his first two seasons at Texas A&M and his final two at UGA. Spencer’s combined career record at the two institutions is 93-39.
IN THE RANKINGS: University of Georgia men’s tennis senior Wil Spencer came in at No. 3 in the singles rankings in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) poll released Jan. 3, highlighting a strong Bulldog showing that includes two players in the singles top-10 and seven ranked individually in either singles or doubles. Meanwhile, Georgia – which reached the NCAA semifinals last May in Palo Alto, Calif. – started the 2012 season ranked No. 4 as a team and has remained there in the subsequent team-only editions of the poll updated on Jan. 24, Feb. 2, and Feb. 7. The next set of singles and doubles rankings comes out Feb. 16.
In the team poll, Southern California, Virginia, and Ohio State took the top three spots, respectively to start the season and have stayed put there in front of the Bulldogs.
In doubles, the team of Spencer and sophomore Garrett Brasseaux were tabbed No. 8 after the pair reached the final of the ITA Southeast Regional in Athens in October. Doumbia and Taboada are ranked just behind at No. 9 while Doumbia is also ranked No. 53 with freshman Nathan Pasha.
ON DECK: Following the Tech match, the Bulldogs head to Charlottesville, Va., for the ITA National Team Indoors Feb. 17-20. Georgia’s first round opponent will be Cal, with that match slated for noon on the opening day of competition on Friday.