2012 Season In Review
June 8, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. --- The University of Georgia men’s tennis team concluded its 2012 season by reaching the NCAA quarterfinals for the eighth consecutive season, amassing an overall record of 26-3 and coming in at No. 5 in the final edition of the ITA team ranking.
The Bulldogs were hosting the NCAA Championships in Athens for the 27th time on the men’s side -- more than any other program in the nation has hosted the event -- but saw their season come to a close in the quarters with a tough 4-3 loss to Pepperdine after entering the tournament as the overall No. 2 seed. But the Bulldogs had plenty to be proud of in 2012, with highlights including a 34th SEC championship, the 550th career victory for head coach Manuel Diaz, a pair of players winning their 100th career singles matches, a run to the singles round of 16 for senior Wil Spencer, a trip to the semifinals of the ITA National Team Indoors, and breakout seasons for freshman Nathan Pasha and junior transfer KU Singh - who will each be back to lead the charge in 2013.
Here’s a chronological look back at the some of the top headlines of the 2012 season:
• Spencer wins Southern Intercollegiates
Senior Wil Spencer defeated Kentucky star Eric Quigley - who went on to play for the NCAA singles title later in the year - in straight sets to claim the 2011 Southern Intercollegiate Championships singles title in Athens in September, sparking a strong fall in which the Florida native went 20-4.
• Five Bulldogs Play at Prestigious All-America Championships
One of the three “majors” in college tennis, the All-America Championships held each year in Tulsa, Okla., brings out college tennis’ top talent. The Bulldogs sent five players, including Spencer, who reached the finals. Later on, in the second big tournament of the fall, the USTA/ITA National Indoors, Georgia’s Spencer and Sadio Doumbia played one another in the finals of the consolation draw, with Spencer taking the title, 7-6(7), 6-3.
• Spencer leads US to win over France in international college tournament
Spencer went a perfect 3-0 in helping the United States win three matches to claim the 2011 Master’U BNP Paribas championship in Rouen, France. Spencer was one of six American college players – three men, three women – representing their country and joining seven other teams of collegians from around the world at the sixth annual event in December.
• Georgia Reaches Semis At Indoors
The Bulldogs used a pair of solid wins over California and Florida to reach the semifinals of the 2012 ITA National Team Indoors in Charlottesville, Va., in February. Georgia fell to the now-four time NCAA defending champion USC Trojans in the semis despite taking four singles first-sets.
• Bulldogs cruise through dual match slate
Following the loss at Indoors, Georgia would only lose one other dual match during the regular season, a 4-3 heartbreaker at home vs. Kentucky, which amounted to a 10-1 SEC slate. In Georgia’s match vs. Vanderbilt on April 1 in Athens, head coach Manuel Diaz won the 550th match of his storied career.
• Georgia Gets Revenge on ‘Cats to Win SEC
Though the loss to the Wildcats during the regular season gave UK the regular-season title with Georgia settling for second place, the Bulldogs exacted revenge on Kentucky in the finals of the 2012 SEC Championships in Starkville, Miss., where UGA defeated the Wildcats 4-1 to claim the program’s 34th overall conference championship and eighth by way of the tournament.
• Georgia Seeded Second For NCAAs
The Bulldogs earned the No. 2 seed for the 2012 NCAA Championships held on the home courts in Athens, and cruised into the round of 16 with regional-round wins over SC State and Florida State. Georgia then won its round of 16 match-up, 4-0, over North Carolina, before falling 4-3 to Pepperdine in the quarterfinals. Georgia was playing in its 34th tournament and 29th in a row - the third-longest active streak in the nation behind just UCLA (36) and Southern Cal (35). It was the first time since 2009 the Bulldogs didn’t make it out of the quarterfinals.
Five Bulldogs - Spencer, Singh, Doumbia, Ignacio Tanoada, and Hernus Pieters - then played in the singles tournament, with Spencer reaching the round of 16 and Doumbia and Taboada also winning their first-round matches.
• Bulldogs rake in awards in 2012
Georgia men’s tennis had no shortage of awards and honors in 2012, highlighted by the All-America recognition for Spencer and Singh. Spencer was an All-America for the second year in a row by entering the singles draw seeded 1-16 and by reaching the round of 16, while Singh took home his first award by finishing ranked in the ITA top-20.
Five Bulldogs earned All-SEC honors including Spencer and Singh on the first team, Doumbia and Taboada on the second team, and Pasha - who also won four SEC Rookie of the Week awards throughout the season - was named All-Freshman.
Pasha was later named the ITA’s Southeast Region Rookie of the Year, while Spencer was named the region’s Senior of the Year and Diaz and associate head coach Will Glenn took home awards in their respective coaching categories.
Spencer and Taboada each won their 100th singles matches - with Taboada doing so in the singles tournament to finish with an even 100 for his career.
• Georgia brings back three starters, welcomes four newcomers
Though the Bulldogs lose three seniors from the lineup in Doumbia, Spencer, and Taboada, they bring back Pasha, Singh, and Pieters - who each had career years in 2012. Georgia also welcomes in a four-player recruiting class.