Courtesy: Georgia Sports Communications
June 8, 2010
The University of Georgia's head men's tennis coach Manuel Diaz will be inducted into the state of Georgia's Tennis Hall of Fame on Friday, Oct. 27, at a banquet sponsored by the Georgia Tennis Foundation at the Evergreen Conference Center at Stone Mountain. Diaz is being inducted based on his contributions to collegiate tennis as both a player and coach. For more than a decade now, Diaz has led the Georgia men's tennis squad, maintaining the same standard of excellence which so impressed him as a Bulldog letterman from 1972-75 and again as an assistant and associate head coach under the guidance of Dan Magill.
Part of Georgia's rich tennis history, Diaz not only was an All-SEC performer as a player but also served as an assistant/associate coach for both of Georgia's previous national championship teams in 1985 and Oe87. In 1999, Diaz hoisted the NCAA Championship trophy for the first time as head coach, leaving little doubt to his jubilation.
When Diaz became Georgia's head tennis coach in 1988, he faced the unenviable task of following the legendary Magill. In 34 years, Magill had won a record 706 dual matches and guided Georgia to 13 SEC outdoor championship titles.
The winning tradition of Georgia tennis continues today under the guidance of Diaz. In 11 of his 12 years as head coach of the Bulldogs, Georgia has finished the season ranked in the top five nationally while earning berths to the NCAA Championships.
Overall, Diaz's teams have won seven Southeastern Conference titles in his tenure. The most recent SEC Championship title came in 1999 as the Bulldogs won a share of the crown with Louisiana State. With the title, Georgia earned its 20th crown in Bulldog tennis history, the most SEC titles won by any league school in any sport in the last 28 years.
In addition, Diaz's teams have won more than 80 percent of their matches as he owns an impressive 269-59 (.820) career slate. In his first season as Bulldog head coach, the Georgia team finished with a 21-6 mark, the SEC title and a trip to the NCAA Championship. He was named 1995 Wilson/ITA National Coach of the Year after the Bulldogs marched to a 27-2 record, a conference crown and a semifinalist finish at NCAAs. He was also named the SEC coach of the year in 1989 and Oe95. Now with the attainment of the NCAA team title in 1999, Diaz has added another ring to his collection.
He has had 16 different players earn 34 All-America honors, which ranks second only to Stanford for the most All-Americans at one school since 1989. Three of his players, Mike Sell, Jamie Laschinger and most recently Steven Baldas, earned All-America honors in all four years of their careers. Sell and Laschinger were the only players in the nation during that time period to accomplish this feat with Sell's career spanning from 1992-95 and Laschinger from 1993-96. Baldas was joined by Stanford's Paul Goldstein as a four-time All-American from 1995-98. In Georgia's program history, Al Parker (1988-91) and Allen Miller (1982-85) are the only other four-time All-Americans in Bulldog history.
Diaz has also upheld the Georgia tradition of hosting successful championship events. The Dan Magill Tennis Complex not only serves as the site for the NCAA Championships -- as it will in 2001 and Oe03 -- but also for ITA Regional and Conference competition, living up to its name as the ³mecca of collegiate tennis.²
Diaz also has international coaching experience. In December of 1991, Diaz was named the head coach of the Puerto Rican Davis Cup Team for 1992. The Puerto Rico team was represented in Davis Cup competition for the first time in history. He has continued in that capacity since 1994. For his contributions to the sport of tennis in Puerto Rico, Diaz was inducted into the Puerto Rican Tennis Hall of Fame in 1998.
Manuel and his wife Suzanne have three sons, Manuel, III, Eric and Alex.
Diaz joins his legendary mentor Magill among the elite members of the Georgia Tennis Hall of Fame.