Ex-Bulldogs lead Oklahoma men's tennis to best season in school history



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May 21, 2014

By Connor Riley
Grady Sports Media

For two former Georgia tennis stars, the Dan Magill Tennis Complex continues to be a great place.

Oklahoma head coach John Roddick and associate head coach Bo Hodge, two former All-Americans and assistant coaches under current University of Georgia head coach Manuel Diaz, led the No. 2-seeded Sooners to their first-ever NCAA team championship finals on the UGA courts this week.

The Sooners would come up short in the championship match, losing to top-seeded University of Southern California 4-2 on Tuesday.

“It was a really hard fought match at the end,” said Roddick. “If you told us a week ago to play for it (the championship) with the last two matches in the third (set), we would have said, ‘Let’s go.’”

The Sooners had just seven NCAA tournament wins in their history before adding five more en route to Tuesday’s final.

Since taking over the Oklahoma program in 2009, Roddick has elevated the program to new heights. In his first season as the head coach, Roddick led the Sooners to their first ever Elite Eight at the 2010 NCAA championships.

In 2012, Roddick and Hodge coached the Sooners to the school’s first Big 12 title. Roddick was also named the Big 12 coach of the year, an award he now has won three years in a row.

“John installed a sense of belief in the program and that is pretty evident,” said Diaz, adding that Roddick and Hodge “are doing a tremendous job at the program.”

Roddick, the older brother of tennis star Andy Roddick, began his coaching career at Florida State after a very successful playing career at the University of Georgia. Roddick was a four-time All-American and the 1998 UGA Athlete of the Year.

In the fall of 2000 Roddick returned to Georgia to be an assistant coach. Diaz and Roddick guided the Bulldogs to the team championship in 2001 when Hodge was a freshman.

After the Bulldogs finished the 2002 season as runners-up at the NCAA tournament, Roddick left Georgia to become the director of Roddick Total Tennis, a boarding school where he trained some of the top youth tennis players.

Hodge graduated from Georgia in 2004, after also being named an All-American four times. After serving as a coach for Venus and Serena Williams and Mardy Fish, Hodge returned to Georgia to be a volunteer assistant coach in August 2006.

During his time as a coach at Georgia, Hodge helped lead the Bulldogs to the 2007 NCAA title. Hodge was an assistant at Alabama before joining up with Roddick in the fall of 2011.

“Bo comes in and takes care of so many details that I don’t even have to worry about,” said Roddick.

Diaz recognizes how well his former players and coaches have done.

“They are doing a terrific job and I am really proud of them,” said Diaz. “I hope that I have played a small part in their lives and acted as a mentor to them. I have a great deal of pride in what they have accomplished.”

Moments after the Sooners lost in Tuesday’s final, Roddick stepped to the microphone and congratulated Georgia for the job it had done.

“I’d like to thank Georgia for putting on a great tournament,” said Roddick. “In my unbiased opinion this is where the tournament belongs every year.”

Riley is a student in Grady Sports Media, a program at UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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