Georgia Advances To NCAA Elite Eight, #6 Final Ranking
Courtesy: Bill Kallenberg
It was the 19th time in the 21 seasons under head coach Manuel Diaz that the Bulldogs finished the year nationally ranked in the top seven.
After three straight years of playing for the national championship including winning it in 2007 and 2008, the so-called experts of college tennis predicted the Bulldogs would not be in the hunt for a third straight NCAA crown. However at the first major tournament, the National Team Indoor Championships in Chicago in February, Georgia advanced to the finals. Still, the Southeastern Conference coaches projected Georgia to finish third in the Eastern Division. While the Bulldogs did drop their opening SEC match 4-3 to eventual league champion Ole Miss in Oxford, Georgia won its final 10 regular season matches to claim the Eastern Division.
Also, Georgia kept its home winning streak going, extending it to 62 consecutive victories at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex. In the NCAA Tournament, Georgia won two matches in Athens to advance to College Station, Texas, site of the Round of 16 through the finals. The Bulldogs got past Illinois and then fell in the Elite Eight to Texas. The Longhorn match was interrupted by rain as Georgia won the doubles and then came back the next day and Texas picked up four singles wins to advance.
Individually, Georgia was led by junior Nate Schnugg who had a team-best 37-15 singles record and went 32-12 in doubles with Jamie Hunt. They earned All-America honors and participated in the NCAA Championships. Georgia's lone senior, team captain Josh Varela provided strong leadership and enjoyed his finest year as a Bulldog, posting a 30-9 record including 14-3 at the No. 3 spot in the lineup. Also, sophomore Javier Garrapiz was close to automatic in dual matches, going 21-3 at No. 2 and No. 3 and 33-9 overall.
Schnugg and Hunt made the All-SEC first team while Varela and Garrapiz were named All-SEC second team.
In the final ITA singles rankings, Schnugg ended up No. 10 followed by Hunt at No. 62 and Garrapiz at No. 63. In doubles, the Schnugg/Hunt tandem was No. 7.
BULLDOG HONORS IN 2009
Nate Schnugg (Singles and Doubles)
Jamie Hunt (Doubles)
Jamie Hunt (First Team)
Nate Schnugg (First Team)
Javier Garrapiz (Second Team)
Josh Varela (Second Team)
SEC Community Service Team
SEC Player of the Week (March 16, April 13)
ITA National Indoors All-Tournament Team
Drake Bernstein, Javier Garrapiz
NCAA Singles Participant
Nate Schnugg (Round of 16)
NCAA Doubles Participants
Jamie Hunt/Nate Schnugg (Quarterfinals)
ITA/Arthur Ashe Award for Leadership & Sportsmanship
Jamie Hunt (Southeast Region Winner)
Note: The ITA/Arthur Ashe Award for Leadership and Sportsmanship goes to a player who has exhibited outstanding sportsmanship and leadership as well as scholastic, extracurricular and tennis achievements.
UGA Athletic Director's Fall Honor Roll
Alex Hill, Christian Vitulli
USOC National Coach of the Year (Tennis)
*USTA International University Challenge
*A group of collegians who competed in Poitiers, France from Dec. 4-7 against teams from Belgium, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Montenegro, Russia and Switzerland.