Jan. 23, 2014
ATHENS, Ga.—The No. 4 Georgia women’s tennis team plays host to ITA Kickoff Weekend starting Friday at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
“I’m eager for us to start playing dual matches and am looking forward to seeing where everyone is at with their games,” said head coach Jeff Wallace. “One of our big goals is to advance on to National Indoors so we have to play well Friday and then again Sunday to make that happen. We’ve been working since we got back from Hawaii to get ready for these indoor matches.”
The Bulldogs will open the dual match season with No. 75 Elon (0-0) Friday at 1 p.m. at the Lindsey Hopkins Indoor Courts. The first match of the day will feature No. 51 Arkansas and No. 55 Kansas State at 9 a.m.
The winner of Friday’s matches will play in the championship match on Sunday at 1 p.m. The consolation match will take place on Saturday at 5 p.m.
A total of 15 schools around the country are playing host to an ITA Women's Kickoff Weekend and these sites are determined in order of their year-end 2013 ITA team ranking. The winner of the championship match will advance to ITA National Team Indoors in Charlottesville on Feb. 7-10.
All matches are free and open to the public. Visit the tournament headquarters for live scoring and results.
Match Points: Georgia hosts ITA Kickoff Weekend for the third consecutive year this weekend at the Lindsey Hopkins Indoors Courts. With a pair of wins this weekend, the Bulldogs will advance to their 24th ITA National Indoor Team Championships. The Bulldogs have won three national indoor team titles (1995-95, 2002), finished second three times (2001, 2004, 2009), and tied for third nine times (1989-93, 1998-2000, 2013).
Aloha, 2014! The Bulldogs return to Athens fresh off a trip to the Aloha State for competition against No. 29 Oklahoma State, No. 44 Illinois and Hawaii-Pacific. Though the Bulldogs did plenty of sight-seeing and other activities, they also took care of business on the court. Georgia went a combined 17-1 in singles and 9-0 in doubles, sweeping the podium in singles and claiming the top two spots in doubles. In singles, Lauren Herring won the title after notching 24 points. Silvia Garcia was runner-up with 20 points and Maho Kowase rounded out the top-three with 19 points. In doubles, the No. 5 pair of Herring and Kowase took home the title with 11 points. Garcia and Fuller finished second with ten points. The trip was the program’s first to Hawaii since 1996.
What’s Next? The Bulldogs will play host to No. 13 Clemson next Saturday, Feb. 2 at 12 p.m. Georgia leads the all-time series with the Tigers 26-19 and knocked them out of the 2013 NCAA Tournament in the Round of 16 in Champaign, Ill. The Tigers have four ranked singles players and one ranked doubles pair.
Familiar Faces: The 2013-14 Bulldog squad returns 87 percent of last season’s singles wins and 83% of last season’s doubles victories. It returns 98 percent of its ranked wins in both singles and doubles. Georgia will be led by three seniors in Kate Fuller, Lilly Kimbell and Maho Kowase. Junior Lauren Herring rounds out Georgia’s upperclassmen.
In the Rankings: The Bulldogs have four singles players and two doubles pairs in the first individual rankings of the year. Lauren Herring and Silvia Garcia are in the Top-10 at No. 4 and No. 10, respectively. Maho Kowase sits at No. 25 and Lilly Kimbell surged to No. 33 after a stellar fall campaign. In doubles, Herring and Kowase are ranked No. 5 while Kimbell and Mia King are No. 52. The Georgia women’s tennis program is the only in the SEC to have two singles players ranked in the Top 15 and is also the only school in the conference to have a doubles pair ranked in the Top 15.
A Look Schedule: The Bulldogs have six “guaranteed” non-conference matches, five which are against opponents ranked in the latest ITA rankings. This weekend, Georgia will play No. 75 Elon before seeing either No. 51 Arkansas or No. 55 Kansas State. Next weekend, the Bulldogs will play host to No. 13 Clemson. On Feb. 21, unranked Furman will visit Athens. Just two days later, Georgia will travel to Athens to renew its annual rivalry with No. 19 Georgia Tech. In March, No. 14 Virginia will come to Athens for a midweek double-header with Georgia’s men’s team.
And that’s just non-conference play. The Southeastern Conference is among the best in the country with six ranked teams, three of which (No. 2 Florida, No. 4 Georgia and No. 7 Texas A&M) are in the Top-10.
It’s a Family Affair: Georgia welcomes third-generation Bulldog Caroline Brinson to the team this spring. The New Orleans native’s grandfather, Vernon Brinson, played baseball at Georgia from 1958-59, and her mother, the former Elizabeth Alexander, played tennis for Georgia from 1988-89, helping the Bulldogs to the SEC Championship in 1989. Brinson arrived in Athens for the start of the January semester and looks to make an immediate impact. The New Orleans native is still finishing up her senior year high school requirements while jointly enrolled at UGA.
Champions du Monde: In 2013, Lauren Herring was selected to be part of the United States’ eighth annual Master’U team. The squad, which was made up of the best college players from around the country, represented the U.S. at the Master’U BNP Paribas, an international collegiate team competition held Nov. 29-Dec. 1 in Aix-en-Provence, France. Herring, along with her American comrades, went 3-0 en route to the American’s fourth Master’U championship.
Where’s Wallace: In 2013, head coach Jeff Wallace became one of just three women’s tennis coaches to reach the 600-win mark. The winningest active coach in women’s college tennis, Wallace ranks third on the all-time wins list. Entering the season, Indiana’s Lin Loring, in his 41st season, ranks first with a 796-309 (.721) record and Pepperdine’s Gualberto Escudero, entering his 37th season, is second with a 632-329 (.658) mark.
Wallace’s excellence isn’t just limited to the women’s side as he is just one of five active collegiate tennis coaches (of men or women) to reach 600–win mark. He is also just the fifth coach in UGA’s history to reach the 600-win mark (A. Landers, 919, L. Harris-Champer, 847,) S. Yoculan, 834, D. Magill, 706).
Throwback to 2013: There are several interesting statistical notes from last season worth revisiting as we start a new season:
• Georgia finished with a combined 46 wins the last two seasons, the best since 2009-10.
• Georgia finished with a .807 singles winning percentage (among its top six players) and a .880 doubles winning percentage (among its top three teams). Both totals are the best since doubles moved to being played before singles in 2001. Ignoring the format change, the next best year would be Georgia’s 2000 National Championship season (.733/.750).
• On the topic of winning percentages, freshman Silvia Garcia has team-bests in both singles (.857) and doubles (.892).
• 2013 marked the first time since 2009 that both Georgia programs have won the SEC Championship and have gone underfeated at home.
NCAA Championships in Athens: The Dan Magill Tennis Complex will be the home of the NCAA Tennis Championships in May 2014 and 2017. It has played host to the men’s NCAA Championships 24 times and the women’s NCAA Championships three times, in addition to three combined tournaments for a total of 30, most recently in 2012. The women claimed the national title in 1994 and at home in 2000.
The Future is Bright: In addition to Brinson, head coach Jeff Wallace announced the signing of juniors tennis standouts Mariana Gould and Hannah King who will arrive on campus in the fall of 2014. Gould, a five-star blue chip recruit, is ranked No. 19 in the Class of 2014 according to TennisRecruiting.net, and has been ranked as high at No. 5 in her class’s recruiting rankings. Gould’s junior’s career is highlighted by two doubles Gold Balls.
King has sported a Top-100 ITF ranking, and has been ranked in the top five in her recruiting class by Tennisrecruiting.net since her freshman year. She received a wild card into the U.S. Open Junior Championships qualifying this year and, in 2011, played in the main draw of the U.S. Open Junior Championships in both singles and doubles, along with being a finalist in multiple ITF events.
It’s Not Just the Women: Georgia is one of three schools to have both its women’s and men’s tennis programs currently ranked in the top 10. The Georgia men’s team is ranked No. 3. The others are UCLA and Southern California.
Following Georgia Women’s Tennis: Fans are able to follow each scheduled outdoor match through a live blog on Georgiadogs.com. See the website for more details.
After the match, fans can check Georgiadogs.com for post-match highlights and interviews. Fans can also “Like” Georgia Women’s Tennis on Facebook and follow @UGAWomensTennis on Twitter.