March 26, 2014
ATHENS, Ga. --- The No. 7 Georgia men's tennis team (12-5, 7-0) will hit the road for one match this weekend, set to take on No. 12 Texas A&M on Friday night in College Station, Texas. First serve is slated for 7 p.m. ET at the Aggies' George P. Mitchell Tennis Center. The match will be aired live online at ESPN3.com as part of the new USTA College MatchDay series.
Georgia is riding a nine-match winning streak and is unbeaten in conference play at 7-0, currently in first place in the Southeastern Conference race. The Bulldogs are aiming for their second consecutive and 28th overall SEC regular season title.
It will mark the Bulldogs' first-ever trip to College Station. Georgia is 4-0 all-time vs. the Aggies, but three of the previous meetings were played at neutral sites and one in Athens.
As part of the MatchDay event, singles matches will be played first. If the match has not yet been clinched, doubles will be played using a 10-point super tiebreaker format. The first team to win two of the tiebreakers will clinch the match.
Live scoring will also be available on Georgiadogs.com.
LAST TIME OUT: The Georgia men's tennis team stayed perfect in SEC action with two more wins last weekend, defeating Kentucky 4-1 on Friday night and Vanderbilt 4-0 on Sunday in Athens.
Friday night's win pushed the Bulldogs (12-5, 7-0) into sole possession of first place in the league standings, as UK was the only other unbeaten team entering the match. Friday's win came in front of a season-high crowd of 1,113. Georgia was paced again by sophomore Austin Smith, who won two singles matches and one doubles in the two outings to sit with 29 singles wins on the season, including nine straight. Sophomore Nick Wood clinched his first match of the year Sunday vs. the Commodores, and has now won seven in a row. Georgia is now on a nine-match winning streak.
LOOKING AT THE AGGIES: Texas A&M enters at 16-5 overall and 5-1 in conference play, currently in third place in the SEC standings behind only Georgia and Kentucky. The Aggies have not played a conference match since March 16 - a 4-0 win over LSU in Baton Rouge. Since then, Texas A&M has registered a 5-2 win over TCU on March 22 and a 7-0 sweep of Rice. Both of those victories came at home.
The Aggies are paced by 26th-ranked Shane Vinsant's 24 wins, including six in a row. No 13 Harrison Adams (22) and No. 52 Jeremy Efferding (20) have also eclipsed the 20-win plateau in 2013-14. In doubles, the 44th-ranked team of Efferding and Jordan Szabo leads the way with 20 wins, while No. 55 Vinsant and Adams have 19. The team of Junior Ore and Jackson Withrow - with an overall record of 17-6 - is ranked No. 2 in the nation this week and has spent time at No. 1 this season.
Georgia is 4-0 all-time vs. the Aggies, including two victories last season. The Bulldogs beat Texas A&M 4-1 last season in Athens in the teams' first SEC match. Incidentally, the Aggies were No. 12 as that time as well. Georgia then posted a tighter 4-3 win in the SEC Championships. The teams had met just twice prior to Texas A&M joining the SEC - a 6-1 win for Georgia at the 1986 Blue-Gray Classic and a 4-1 win in the 2002 NCAA Championships.
PIETERS NAMED SEC PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Senior Hernus Pieters captured the Georgia men's tennis team's second consecutive weekly honor, named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Week in a league announcement released Wednesday afternoon. Austin Smith earned the same honor a week ago.
It marks the second SEC honor of Pieters' career, as he was named the Freshman of the Week back on Feb. 23, 2011.
The Pretoria, South Africa, native won three matches last weekend and had another - against the nation's top-ranked doubles team - suspended just one game away from a win to help the Bulldogs (12-5, 7-0) extend their winning streak to nine with victories over No. 14 Kentucky and No. 33 Vanderbilt. Pieters' doubles win vs. the Wildcats with partner Ben Wagland over No. 26 Tom Jomby and Kevin Lai was the clinching decision to give Georgia the early 1-0 lead, while his singles win later that night clinched the overall match - his team-leading fourth clinch of the year - to propel UGA into sole possession of first place in the SEC.
Against Vandy, his doubles match was suspended with the duo leading 7-6 over No. 1-ranked Gonzales Austin and Ryan Lipman, but he again won in singles, his victory giving Georgia a 3-0 lead over the Commodores on their way to the eventual shutout. Pieters is 8-2 in his last 10 singles outings and on a five-match winning streak in doubles with Wagland. The pair rose to No. 9 in the most recent ITA rankings.
IN THE RANKINGS: Following two more wins to extend its winning streak to nine matches, the Georgia men's tennis team (12-5, 7-0) jumped three spots to No. 7 in this week's Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) weekly poll. Last week, the Bulldogs beat No. 14 Kentucky and No. 33 Vanderbilt at home.
Southern California occupies the top spot this week, followed by Ohio State, Oklahoma, Virginia, UCLA, Baylor, Georgia, North Carolina, Notre Dame, and Illinois to round out the top 10.
In singles, Austin Smith continues to lead the way for the Bulldogs - coming in at No. 18 and on a nine-match winning streak with a team-high 29 wins. He is followed by Nathan Pasha at No. 39, Ben Wagland at No. 72, Garrett Brasseaux at No. 75, and Nick Wood at No. 117. Wood returned to the rankings this week after winning seven straight and starting SEC play unbeaten at 5-0.
In doubles, Georgia's team of Wagland and Hernus Pieters shot up from No. 21 to No. 9.
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 597 and is just three shy of the 600-win plateau.
Diaz has the ninth-most wins in NCAA Division I men's tennis history, and is second all-time on that list among SEC coaches behind only Bulldog legend Dan Magill, who won 706 matches in 33 seasons from 1955-88.
Only eight NCAA Division I men's head coaches in history have won 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 return to Athens for their final two home matches of the regular season next weekend, hosting Arkansas and LSU. Sunday's match vs. the Tigers will serve as Senior Day for the Bulldog duo of Garrett Brasseaux and Hernus Pieters.