Men's Tennis Opens NCAA Play Saturday
May 9, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. --- The No. 2-seeded Georgia men’s tennis team (23-2) is headed to its 34th NCAA Championships, starting with first and second round regional action this weekend in Athens. The Bulldogs are one of 16 regional campus sites, and open up against MEAC champion South Carolina State (20-2) on Sat., May 12 at noon. A win would pit Georgia against the winner of the Boise State-Florida State in the second round Sunday at 2 p.m. with a trip to the Round of 16 on the line.
Live scoring and live video streaming will be available for all matches on Georgiadogs.com. The Georgia Tennis Live Chat will be up and running for all UGA matches.
Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for students (college-age with ID and younger). Order online on Georgiadogs.com or by calling the ticket office at 1-877-542-1231. The Georgia women’s tennis team is also hosting first and second rounds, with their matches set for Friday and Saturday.
“We’ve been working really hard,” said head coach Manuel Diaz. “The guys had to go through exams, but have remained committed to our conditioning. The guys are fit. They’ve put in a lot of work, and as it gets hot down here that will become a feather in our cap. Everybody’s doing great and we are in pretty good health. We’re excited for the weekend to get here. We’ve been inactive the last few weeks, which can always be a concern, but it’s similar for all the teams coming in. We’re excited to compete again.”
“South Carolina State is a great team,” Diaz said. “Looking at their results, their 3-4-5 players have all only lost once all year. They’re deep and an extremely successful team, so we can’t take anyone lightly. We expect a great match from them. Hopefully we will find our rhythm early on in the match, have a strong day and go from there. We’re just trying to hopefully put two good days together and move ahead.”
GEORGIA IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: The six-time national champion Bulldogs are playing in their 34th NCAA Tournament and boast a record of 87-28 in tournament play.
Georgia was an automatic entry into the NCAA field of 64 after winning the SEC Championships last month in Starkville, Miss.
The Bulldogs are coming off national semifinal trips on each of the last two seasons, while the squad has reached the finals in three of the last six years. Georgia has won six NCAA titles, last winning in back-to-back years in 2007-08.
The Bulldogs have advanced to the finals a staggering 13 times in the last 27 years and have moved out of the regional rounds eight years in a row and 11 of 13 times total since the tournament adopted its current format in 1999.
LOOKING AT THE (OTHER) BULLDOGS: South Carolina State brings its record of 20-2 into the championships, claiming the MEAC title and an automatic bid by downing Florida A&M 4-3. It was S.C. State’s fifth straight and 10th overall league title.
Georgia and S.C. State have faced just once before, also in the first round of the NCAA Tournament back in 2009. The meeting resulted in a 4-0 win for the Bulldogs of UGA in Athens.
The other teams in the region - Florida State & Boise State - will battle at 9 a.m. on Saturday in the first first-round match of the day on the men’s side with the winner to face the winner of Georgia-S.C. State Sunday at 2 p.m.
LAST TIME OUT: The Bulldogs have been out of action since April 22 when they won the program’s 34th overall SEC title in Starkville, Miss.
The 4-1 win over Kentucky in the finals moved the Bulldogs to 23-2 on the season and the squad has now won seven matches in a row heading into the NCAA Tournament. It marked Georgia’s first SEC tournament title since 2007 as Georgia went on to win the national championship later that season in Athens.
Georgia that weekend registered two wins over top-10 opponents after also knocking off No. 9 and host Mississippi State in the semifinals. The Bulldogs were able to respond after falling 4-3 to Kentucky during the regular season in Athens, which proved to cost Georgia the regular-season title as UK finished at 11-0 and UGA 10-1.
After the tournament it was announced that Georgia’s Hernus Pieters and Ignacio Taboada were named to the All-Tournament Team, while Taboada was named the MVP as well. It was the second straight year he earned tournament honors for his play at the SEC Championships.
FOUR BULLDOGS EARN NCAA INDIVIDUAL BIDS: Four members of the University of Georgia men’s tennis team were awarded at-large bids to the individual singles tournament to be held May 23-28 at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, the NCAA announced. Four selections marks the second-most in the singles field behind only three-time defending NCAA team champion Southern Cal’s five.
Senior Wil Spencer – ranked No. 10 in the April 24 ITA ranking with a record of 29-11 – was awarded a No. 9-16 seed, which secures him his second consecutive All-America honor and Georgia’s 81st overall. Joining Spencer in the singles tournament will be fellow seniors Sadio Doumbia (30-14) and Ignacio Taboada (32-10) as well as junior KU Singh (22-4). Sophomore Hernus Pieters (33-10) was named the first singles alternate.
Spencer and Doumbia are playing in the second individual tournament of their careers, while it marks the first trip for Taboada and Singh. Spencer and Garrett Brasseaux were named the sixth alternate into the doubles field.
Match-ups for the singles and doubles tournaments will be announced during the team portion of the NCAA Championships set for May 17-22 also in Athens. A total of 64 players will participate in the singles in addition to 32 doubles teams.
FIVE RECOGNIZED WITH ALL-SEC HONORS: Five members of the University of Georgia men’s tennis team were recognized on the All-SEC teams released by the conference on April 26, including two players each on the first and second teams and one earning All-Freshman honors.
Senior Wil Spencer and junior KU Singh received first team All-SEC honors while seniors Sadio Doumbia and Ignacio Taboada were named to the second team. Additionally, four-time SEC Freshman of the Week Nathan Pasha was named to the seven-player All-Freshman squad.
IN THE RANKINGS: Coming off an SEC championship and a pair of wins over top-10 teams over the weekend, the Georgia men’s tennis team shot up two spots to No. 2 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) poll released on April 24. Georgia was last ranked No. 2 on Feb. 24, 2009.
A new set of ITA rankings - slating Georgia down one spot at No. 3 - was released late on May 8 after the NCAA ran a new poll to determine the field of 64, though Georgia still earned the No. 2 seed for the tournament.
Georgia has now been ranked in the top-10 in all 15 team polls of 2012 and has fallen inside the top-5 the last eight weeks in a row.
Southern Cal came in at No. 1 again, followed by Virginia, Georgia, UCLA, Ohio State, Kentucky, Pepperdine, Duke, Mississippi State, and Oklahoma.
Individually, Georgia has five players ranked in singles - all falling inside the top-60 - including No. 11 Wil Spencer, No. 19 KU Singh, No. 32 Sadio Doumbia, No. 52 Ignacio Taboada, and No. 60 Hernus Pieters. In doubles, Georgia also has five teams ranked in the top 60 teams, led by Spencer and Garrett Brasseaux at No. 33.
PASHA NAMED SEC F.O.Y. A FOURTH TIME: University of Georgia men’s tennis freshman Nathan Pasha secured his fourth SEC Freshman of the Week honor of the season when the league office issued its release on April 16.
Pasha won the award in back-to-back weeks in April, in addition to taking the honors on March 28 and Feb. 22. The Atlanta native posted a 10-match singles winning streak earlier this season and currently stands at 31-8 in singles on the year, including 20-2 in dual match play and 14-1 at No. 6 singles.
SPENCER WINS 100TH SINGLES MATCH; TABOADA CLOSE: Georgia senior captain Wil Spencer used a three-set win over Tennessee’s 42nd-ranked Mikelis Libietis on April 14 to secure the 100th singles victory of 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 now 101-47.
Fellow senior Ignacio Taboada is also getting close to the milestone at 97-36 for his career that included two seasons at the University of Miami and two at Georgia.
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.
ON DECK: If Georgia advances out of the regional - which it has done in each of the past eight seasons - it will earn a place in the championships in Athens May 18-22. The individual singles and doubles portion of the tournament is then set for May 23-28, also at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
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