April 16, 2014
ATHENS, Ga. --- The No. 9 Georgia men's tennis team (16-6, 11-1) heads to the 2014 SEC Men's Tennis Championships in hopes of defending the regular season conference title it secured on April 11. The tournament will be hosted by Vanderbilt, running April 16-20 at the Currey Tennis Center in Nashville.
Georgia is the No. 1 seed for the tournament, and receives a double-bye into the quarterfinal round. The Bulldogs will meet the winner of the second round match between No. 8 Vanderbilt and No. 9 Auburn at 4 p.m. ET on Friday. The semifinals are set for Saturday and the final Sunday. The winner of the tournament secures an automatic bid to the upcoming NCAA Championships.
The Bulldogs secured at least a share of the SEC regular season championship last Friday night at Alabama, then claimed it outright with a win Sunday at Auburn. Georgia has swept both titles in a season seven times, including in 2013. The Bulldogs have won two straight SEC Tournament titles and nine total.
Georgiadogs.com will offer the Georgia Tennis Live Chat, as well as live scoring courtesy of the Commodores, for all matches.
GEORGIA AT THE CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT: Georgia has won the conference tournament a total of nine times, most recently in 2013. In all, the Bulldogs have won in 1991, 1993, 1995, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2012, and 2013 - all under the direction of head coach Manuel Diaz. Those nine titles since the inception of tournament play in 1990 lead the league, as Florida is next with four. The Bulldogs have also appeared in the championship match more than any other school, a total of 15 times in 24 tries.
Last season the Bulldogs posted wins over Kentucky, Texas A&M, and Tennessee on their way to the championship.
LAST TIME OUT: The Georgia men's tennis team used two 4-0 road shutouts over Alabama and Auburn to claim the program's 37th SEC championship.
On Friday night in Tuscaloosa, Georgia's win gave 26th-year head coach Manuel Diaz the 600th victory of his storied career, and also clinched at least a share of the regular season title, while the win over Auburn on Sunday secured Georgia's championship outright. UGA finishes the regular season 16-6 overall and 11-1 in conference play.
IN THE RANKINGS: The Bulldogs fell from No. 8 to No. 9 last week despite a pair of wins over Arkansas and LSU, and remained No. 9 in the nation in the April 15 poll.
In singles, Austin Smith continues to lead the way for the Bulldogs, coming in at No. 20 and with a team-leading 32 wins. He is followed by Nathan Pasha at No. 31, Ben Wagland at No. 77, and Garrett Brasseaux at No. 83.
In doubles, Georgia's team of Wagland and Hernus Pieters attained a season-best mark of No. 7 this weekend, riding an eight-match winning streak with 10 wins over ranked opponents.
PASHA NAMED TO SEC COMMUNITY SERVICE TEAM: Georgia junior Nathan Pasha has been named to the 2014 Southeastern Conference Men's Tennis Community Service Team, the league office announced Tuesday evening.
The SEC sponsors community service teams in all 21 sports, looking to highlight student-athletes who give back to his or her community through superior service efforts.
The Atlanta native is co-president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) at UGA, while regularly volunteering his time with the Special Olympics and the Boys & Girls Club. He is also a member of L.E.A.D. - Georgia's athletics leadership academy.
Pasha is 26-11 in singles this season with eight wins over ranked opponents. He is 13-4 at No. 2 doubles, currently on a six-match winning streak with partner Garrett Brasseaux.
DIAZ WINS 600TH CAREER MATCH: Georgia head coach Manuel Diaz - now in his 26th season at the helm - reached an elite milestone last weekend, with the Bulldogs' 4-0 victory on the road at Alabama on April 11 serving as his 600th career victory.
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 nine 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 will next turn their attention to the 2014 NCAA Championships, with the first and second rounds set for May 9-11 at campus sites to be announced. The round of 16 and beyond - including the singles and doubles individual championships - will be hosted by Georgia at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex May 15-26.