May 16, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. --- The No. 2-seeded Georgia men's tennis team (25-2) punched its ticket to the NCAA round of 16 with a pair of wins last weekend over South Carolina State and Florida State, surrendering just one team point in those two matches.
Georgia - winners of a season-high nine straight matches - is playing in its 34th NCAA Championships, with the Bulldogs hosting the event at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens for the 27th time on the men's side. The Bulldogs open the draw in Athens against 15th-seeded North Carolina, which reached the round of 16 by capturing wins over the College of Charleston and Tennessee over the weekend in Chapel Hill, N.C. Georgia and the Tar Heels will meet on Fri., May 18 at 7 p.m. in Athens, with the winner set to take on the winner of the Pepperdine-Tulsa match in the quarterfinals on May 20 at 4 p.m.
Daily passes for the NCAA Championships are on sale now on Georgiadogs.com or by calling the ticket office at 1-877-542-1231. The cost is $10 for adults and $6 for youth (college age with ID and younger). An all-session pass is $100 or $60 for youth/students.
"Last weekend was great for us," said head coach Manuel Diaz. "We just got back to competing, and after a couple weeks off you get a little out of sorts. You have to find your rhythm again. We had to play under a good bit of pressure against Florida State after losing the doubles, and I was pleased to see the guys show resolve and determination."
"UNC is always very well coached and a deep team," Diaz said. "They're particularly good in the doubles, so that will be a big challenge for us. I do think our guys are prepared. I think we will have a great atmosphere - playing at 7 p.m., night matches tend to be a little more exciting. I think both teams will look good."
GEORGIA IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: The six-time national champion Bulldogs are now 89-28 all-time in tournament play, winners of 25 of 28 tournament matches dating back to 2007.
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 now moved out of the regional rounds nine years in a row and 12 of 14 times total since the tournament adopted its current format in 1999.
LOOKING AT THE TAR HEELS: North Carolina earned its place in the round of 16 by securing wins over the College of Charleston and Tennessee. It marks UNC's third appearance in the round of 16 since 2006 and first since 2008.
Ranked 17th and seeded No. 15, the Tar Heels bring in an overall record of 15-7, while UNC has two players ranked in the singles poll. Jose Hernandez - the Heels' No. 1 singles specialist - is ranked No. 26, while Brennan Boyajian is currently No. 92. In doubles, the Tar Heels team of Joey Burkhardt and Jose Hernandez is No. 20, while the team of Oystein Steiro and Boyajian is No. 52.
North Carolina head coach Sam Paul's team earned its 13th straight bid to the NCAA Championships and its 20th bid in the last 21 years.
Georgia and UNC have met a total of 17 times before, but never in the postseason. Georgia owns an 11-6 all-time record vs. the Tar Heels, with the teams most recently squaring off in both 2010 and 2011 in the ITA Kickoff. Georgia won both of those meetings with scores of 4-2 and 4-1, respectively. Prior to that, the teams hadn't met since 2004 - a 5-2 win for North Carolina.
A LOOK AT THE FIELD: Fourteen of the 16 national seeds advanced of the regional rounds on the men's side, with the upsets coming in Starkville, Miss. (Baylor def. #9 Mississippi State) and Norman, Okla., (Tulsa def. #10 Oklahoma).
The SEC and the Pac-12 again lead all schools with four teams each in the round of 16, while the Big Ten has three representatives. Two ACC schools will make the trip, as well as one apiece from the Big 12, Conference USA, and the West Coast Conference.
LAST TIME OUT: The second-seeded Georgia men's tennis team advanced to the round of 16 of the NCAA Championships with a 4-1 win over No. 33 Florida State on Sunday. The match was moved indoors to the Lindsey Hopkins Indoor Courts due to rain. Georgia won its first round match 4-0 over South Carolina State on Saturday to set up the meeting with the Seminoles.
Florida State (19-10) won the doubles point to take a 1-0 lead vs. Georgia, just the sixth time in 27 tries the Bulldogs dropped doubles. The Seminole tandem of Dominic Cotrone and Anderson Reed beat Wil Spencer and KU Singh, 8-3 at No. 3, then Georgia answered at No. 2 where the No. 41 duo of Nathan Pasha and Ignacio Taboada downed Andres Bucaro and Benjamin Lock, 8-4. FSU clinched the doubles point at No. 1 where No. 54 Jordan Kelly-Houston and Blake Davis topped Hernus Pieters and Sadio Doumbia, 8-4.
In singles, 19th-ranked KU Singh gave Georgia its first point at No. 2 with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Davis. A No. 4, 52nd-ranked Taboada gave the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead with his 6-4, 6-4 win over Lock, then No. 32 Doumbia made it 3-1 with a 6-0, 6-4 win over Bucaro at No. 3.
Senior Wil Spencer clinched the match for the Bulldogs at No. 1 with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 win over Kelly-Houston. Matches at Nos. 5 and 6 were suspended with Georgia leading in both.
Sunday marked Georgia's 25th victory of the season. The Bulldogs have now won 25 or more matches 20 times since the program became a varsity sport in 1955. This is the first time since 2009.
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. A total of 64 players will participate in the singles in addition to 32 doubles teams.
REGIONAL AWARDS GALORE: Four members of the Georgia men's tennis team received ITA Southeast Region honors for their performances during the 2011-12 season, the organization announced on May 14.
Head coach Manuel Diaz - now in his 24th season at the helm of the Bulldogs - collected the sixth Wilson/ITA Southeast Region Coach of the Year honor of his career, while Will Glenn earned his second Southeast Region Assistant Coach of the Year award since 2010.
Meanwhile, Wil Spencer was named the region's Senior of the Year and freshman Nathan Pasha earned Rookie of the Year honors. All regional award winners are automatically eligible for the national award in their respective categories, which will be announced on May 22 during the NCAA Championships in Athens.
Diaz and Glenn led Georgia to a 20-2 regular season and the program's eighth SEC Tournament title in 2012, while Diaz collected the 550th win of his career this season vs. Vanderbilt. The Bulldogs reached the semifinals of the ITA National Indoors in Charlottesville, Va., and have gone 12-2 against the ITA top-25 this season.
Spencer has held down the No. 1 singles position for the Bulldogs for the second straight season, posting an overall record of 30-11 with a team-high 19 wins over ranked opponents. Spencer was also honored by the ITA in 2011, as he took home the Southeast Region's Arthur Ashe/Osuna Award for Leadership & Sportsmanship.
Pasha won the SEC Freshman of the Week award four times this season, currently 32-8 overall, 21-2 in dual matches, and 14-1 at No. 6 singles.
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.
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 102-47.
Fellow senior Ignacio Taboada is also getting close to the milestone at 98-36 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 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.
In doubles, Georgia has won the point a total of 21 times while surrendering the early lead just six times all season. When the Bulldogs win doubles they have not lost, standing at 21-0 in those matches. Georgia is 4-2 in matches in which it has lost doubles.
**Complete NCAA Championships Notes are attached in PDF format**