March 5, 2014
ATHENS, Ga. --- The 16th-ranked Georgia men's tennis team (5-5) returns home to host a pair of SEC matches this weekend against its Magnolia State rivals, taking on No. 17 Mississippi State (12-4, 2-0) on Fri., March 7 at 2:30 p.m. before turning around to face currently unranked Ole Miss (2-5, 0-2) on Sun., March 9 at 1 p.m. Both matches will be played outdoors at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex, weather permitting. Admission is free.
Georgia is coming off a pair of 4-0 shutout wins last week over Georgia Tech and Tennessee.
LOOKING AT THE (OTHER) BULLDOGS: No. 17 Mississippi State makes the trip to Athens with an overall record of 12-4 and coming off a 2-0 start to SEC play last weekend with wins over Alabama and Auburn.
The Bulldogs are led in the stat column by Florian Lakat's 16 wins, while Jordan Angus (15) and Malte Stropp (13) are also in double figures in singles victories. In doubles, the team of Angus and Stropp lead the way with 13 wins on the year.
Lakat is the highest-ranked MSU player at No. 63, while Stropp comes in at No. 71. The squad does not currently have any teams ranked in doubles.
Georgia has already faced Mississippi State once this year, suffering a 4-3 loss in the final match at the ITA National Indoor Championships last month. In that match, Georgia started down 3-0 after losing doubles and forfeiting lines five and six in singles. Overall, UGA owns an all-time record of 53-11 vs. MSU, including a 4-1 win in the 2013 regular season.
LOOKING AT THE REBELS: The Rebels are currently unranked in the ITA team poll after amassing a record of 2-5 to start the 2014 season. Ole Miss lost its first two SEC matches last weekend to Auburn and Alabama.
Ole Miss is led by Nik Scholtz's 12 wins, while Stefan Lindmark enters with 11 and William Kallberg 10 in singles. In doubles, Kallberg and Lindmark have teamed for seven victories to pace the Rebels. Scholtz is the lone Ole Miss player in the singles poll at No. 36, while no doubles teams are ranked.
Georgia is 36-10 all-time vs. Ole Miss, but dropped a 4-3 decision to the Rebels a season ago in Oxford. That turned out to the Bulldogs' lone SEC loss on the season.
LAST TIME OUT: The Georgia men's tennis team posted a 2-0 week with a pair of 4-0 shutouts over some big rivals.
The Bulldogs started off with a 4-0 win over in-state foe Georgia Tech on Thursday, before beating No. 11 Tennessee by the same score in the SEC opener on Sunday on the road in Knoxville. Sophomore Austin Smith went a combined 4-0 in the two matches, including a win over the Vols' No. 32-ranked Mikelis Libietis, who has spent time at No.1 in the nation in his career. Smith is now tied with Nathan Pasha for the team lead with 23 singles victories.
The pair of wins evened Georgia at 5-5 overall in 2014, and 1-0 to start conference play.
IN THE RANKINGS: The Georgia men's tennis team dropped to No. 35 in the first edition of the computerized ITA poll released last week, then shot up to No. 16 in the March 4 edition following two straight 4-0 wins over Georgia Tech and Tennessee. The Bulldogs opened the season at No. 3 and dropped one spot to No. 4 on Feb. 4.
The Bulldogs in 2014 returned the top five singles players from last year's squad that reached the NCAA semifinals. UGA finished the 2013 season ranked third after the trip to the "Final Four."
DIAZ APPROACHING ANOTHER MILESTONE: Georgia head coach Manuel Diaz - now in his 26th season at the helm - is nearing yet another career milestone. Having entered the season with 585 victories to his name, he now stands with 590 and is just 10 shy of the 600-win plateau.
Diaz has the eighth-most wins in NCAA Division I men's tennis history, and is second all-time in SEC coaching victories behind only Bulldog legend Dan Magill, who won 706 matches in 33 seasons from 1955-88.
Only seven other NCAA Division I men's head coaches have won more than 600 matches in a career.
Diaz won his 500th match on March 15, 2010 against Vanderbilt, then snagged No. 550 in a 2012 dual match also against the Commodores.
ON DECK: The Bulldogs will host No. 1 Ohio State in a mid-week non-conference meeting on Wed., March 12 at 2:30 p.m. at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. Georgia then steps back into SEC play on the road next weekend, traveling to face South Carolina and Florida.