March 22, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. --- Coming off its biggest win of the year and riding a six-match hot streak, the fourth-ranked Georgia men’s tennis team will tackle a “split” weekend in the SEC, hosting Arkansas on Friday before traveling to LSU on Sunday as the squad returns to conference action after a one-match break.
Georgia (14-1, 4-0), aiming to stay perfect in SEC play, will host the Razorbacks on March 23 at 2:30 p.m. in Athens before heading to Baton Rouge to meet the Tigers on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET. The Bulldogs are coming off a dramatic 4-3 upset victory over No. 2 Ohio State on Wednesday.
Live scoring and the Georgia Tennis Live Chat will be available on Georgiadogs.com in addition to live video streaming of all six courts for Arkansas, while admission to the match is free. Georgiadogs.com will offer live scoring on Sunday for LSU.
“The most important thing is that we spent a lot of physical and emotional energy in the match yesterday,” said head coach Manuel Diaz. “It was a rugged, tough match and this will be a big challenge for our guys to keep that up. That’s my biggest concern right now. We celebrated quietly in the locker room after the match, but we need to turn the page. I explained to them that from here on, we are in a conference race. We have some very important matches and we have to peak at the right time. I still believe this team is on its way to playing its best tennis – we haven’t played our best tennis yet. Hopefully the guys will continue to stay on course and keep improving.”
LOOKING AT THE RAZORBACKS: No. 32 Arkansas enters the match at 14-5 (1-3 SEC) and riding a four-match winning streak that includes wins over non-conference opponents Wichita State, Southern Miss, Lamar, and UMKC.
The squad is led by 15 singles wins apiece from Nikolas Zogaj and Matt Walters, as Zogaj is currently the Razorbacks’ only player ranked in either singles or doubles at No. 120. The doubles tandem of Walters and Hall Fess currently lead the way with 18 wins, including a 10-3 clip at No. 1 in dual matches.
Georgia is 22-2 all-time vs. Arkansas, including last season’s 7-0 win in Fayetteville. In all, the Bulldogs have won seven straight matches in the series dating back to a 4-3 loss in 2004.
Arkansas is coached by Robert Cox in his 24th season.
LOOKING AT THE TIGERS: LSU comes into the match at 11-5 on the season and 2-2 in conference, but will face Tennessee on Friday night in Knoxville before hosting the Bulldogs in Baton Rouge. Last time out, LSU suffered a 6-1 loss to Georgia’s last opponent, No. 2 Ohio State, at home.
LSU - ranked No. 26 in the latest team poll - is led by No. 72 Olivier Borsos and No. 85 Neal Skupski. In doubles, the team of Borsos and Chris Simpson have a No. 51 ranking this week.
Georgia owns a 43-14 all-time record vs. the Tigers, including last season’s 7-0 win in Athens and 4-1 victory in the SEC Tournament. The Bulldogs have won 10 in a row vs. LSU dating back to a loss in 2003.
LSU’s head coach is Jeff Brown, in his 15th season at the helm.
LAST TIME OUT: The No. 4 Georgia men’s tennis team bounced back from an early 2-0 deficit to defeat second-ranked Ohio State by a 4-3 score Wednesday afternoon in non-conference action at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. The victory snapped a three-match dry spell for the Bulldogs in the series vs. the Buckeyes while improving Georgia to 14-1 on the season, including six straight wins dating back to Feb. 27.
The Buckeyes fall to 19-2 with the loss, suffering just their second loss of the season with their only previous setback of 2012 coming at the hand of No. 1 Southern California.
After Georgia lost doubles for just the fourth time this season, the Bulldogs secured wins at Nos. 2, 3, 4, and 6 singles - with the clinch coming from senior Sadio Doumbia on court three.
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. 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. It marked the Bulldogs’ highest ranking since they were No. 3 in April of 2009. They fell one spot to No. 4 in the March 20 edition, which was a team-only poll.
ON DECK: The Bulldogs return home next weekend to take on Kentucky and Vanderbilt on Friday and Sunday, respectively. Sunday’s match vs. the Commodores will mark Senior Day for the trio of Sadio Doumbia, Wil Spencer, and Ignacio Taboada.