March 20, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. --- Riding a five-match winning streak, the No. 3 Georgia men's tennis team (13-1) returns to action following a 10-day layoff to take on second-ranked Ohio State at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex on Wed., March 21 beginning at 2:30 p.m.
The meeting with the Buckeyes (19-1) will be the Bulldogs' second against a top-two opponent this season after taking on No. 1 Southern Cal earlier in the year. In all, Georgia has faced seven teams ranked in the ITA top-25, going 6-1 in those matches.
The Bulldogs are taking a brief hiatus from SEC competition after opening conference play with a 4-0 record.
"It'll be a very important day for us," said head coach Manuel Diaz. "It's a day that we've marked on our calendars for a while now. Ohio State has been a top-2, top-3 team in the country the last few years, and any time we meet it's a battle. They've had the best of us the last three times, and it's a rivalry we want to get back on top of. They are a formidable opponent. They're No. 2 for a reason. They are deep and strong and it will be a great match."
LOOKING AT THE BUCKEYES: Georgia is 10-3 all-time vs. Ohio State, though the Buckeyes have won each of the last three meetings with UGA's last win in the series coming in 2007.
At No. 2 in the country and 19-1 (2-0 in Big Ten play), Ohio State reached the semifinals of the 2011 NCAA Championships in Palo Alto, Calif., and the finals of the 2012 ITA National Indoor Tournament in Charlottesville, Va., consistently ranking among the nation's elite in the past several years. Georgia and Ohio State each have just one loss in the 2012, both coming vs. top-ranked Southern California. Ohio State has now won 61 of its last 62 regular-season road matches dating back to 2006, and have won 36 of their last 38 matches overall.
Most recently the Buckeyes began a Southern swing that started Monday in Baton Rouge as OSU knocked off LSU by a 6-1 score.
In the individual rankings, Blaz Rola is currently the team's highest-ranked player at No. 6 in singles, while Chase Buchanan sits at No. 12. They are followed by Peter Kobelt at No. 46, Devin McCarthy at No. 79, Ille Van Engelen at No. 107, and Nelson Vick at No. 119. In doubles, the team of Rola and Buchanan are currently ranked first in the country, while Buchanan and Kobelt are No. 25 when playing together. Also ranked are McCarthy and Van Engelen at No. 39 and the team of Rola and Connor Smith at No. 54.
Rola is the team leader in wins with 22 in singles, while Ohio State's Nos. 1 and 2 doubles teams of Rola and Buchanan and McCarthy and Van Engelen both have 21 wins on the year.
Ohio State is coached by Ty Tucker - the 2009 ITA National Coach of the Year - currently in his 13th season.
LAST TIME OUT: The Georgia men's tennis team improved to 13-1 on the season and 4-0 in SEC play with last weekend's close 4-3 wins over Mississippi State and Ole Miss in Athens.
The Bulldogs had led MSU 4-1 before the visiting Bulldogs won the remaining two matches to make the final score 4-3 last Friday night, while on Sunday it came down to the final match as sophomore Hernus Pieters defeated Johan Backstrom on court No. 5 to break the 3-3 tie and give Georgia the victory. The Bulldogs were out of action this past week for spring break.
ISNER BEATS DJOKOVIC, REACHES TOP 10: Former Georgia men's tennis standout John Isner used a win over world No. 1 Novak Djokovic on Saturday to promptly move into the top 10 of the ATP rankings for the first time in his career. His current No. 10 ranking makes him the first player since fellow Bulldog Mikael Pernfors to play four years at the college level before attaining a top-10 professional ranking. Pernfors was ranked No. 10 in 1986.
Isner defeated Djokovic in Saturday's semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, 7-6, 3-6, 7-6, before falling to No. 3 Roger Federer in Sunday's final, 7-6, 6-3. The win over Djokovic was Isner's first over a top-ranked opponent and secured him his first ever appearance in an ATP Masters 1000 final. It was the first win for an American over a No. 1 since James Blake defeated Federer in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
The 2011 U.S. Open quarterfinalist will next compete at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami this week before rejoining his Davis Cup teammates for the World Group quarterfinals April 6-8 in France.
Isner was a four-time All-America at Georgia from 2004-07 and led the Bulldogs to the 2007 NCAA title. He is still the school record holder in both singles and doubles wins for a career.
MIXING IT UP: After a 2010-11 season in which the Bulldog doubles lineups were solidifed early on, head coach Manuel Diaz has done some shuffling of his teams in 2011-12. So far in 2012 Diaz's Bulldogs have gone with 22 different doubles team combinations out of a total of 66 possibilities.
SPENCER'S RECORD WATCH: Georgia senior captain Wil Spencer sits just four 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 96-42.
IN THE RANKINGS: Following a pair of wins last weekend over No. 12 Mississippi State and 16th-ranked Ole Miss, the Georgia men's tennis team climbed three spots to No. 3 in the March 13 ITA National Rankings. This marks the Bulldogs' highest ranking since they were No. 3 in April of 2009.
Southern Cal is No. 1, followed by Ohio State, Georgia, UCLA, Virginia, Duke, Kentucky, Pepperdine, Stanford and Florida to round out the top-10.
The Bulldogs are 13-1 this season, including a 4-0 mark in SEC play, with the only loss coming to top-ranked Southern Cal in the National Indoor Tournament.
An additional team poll will be released late Tuesday in advance of the Georgia-Ohio State match, so the No. 2 vs. No. 3 match-up is subject to change.
ON DECK: The Bulldogs resume SEC competition this coming weekend, hosting No. 43 Arkansas on Friday at 2:30 p.m. before traveling to Baton Rouge to take on No. 27 LSU on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.