ATHENS----Sixth-ranked Georgia plays host to an ITA Kickoff Weekend event Sunday at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
The Bulldogs will open the dual match season with No. 73 Columbia (0-0) Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Hopkins Indoor Courts. The first match of the day will feature No. 40 Oklahoma State (1-0) versus No. 70 Georgia State (1-0) at 9 a.m. Live scoring (all four matches) will be available on Georgiadogs.com for the duration of the event. All action is free and open to the public. Follow this link for action starting with the men's event Friday-Saturday and then the women's team on Sunday-Monday: http://www.georgiadogs.com/sports/m-tennis/spec-rel/012313aad.html
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 2012 ITA team ranking. The host team will meet the No. 4 seed, the No. 2 seed will play the No. 3 seed, and the winners will come back the next day to play for a berth at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships. This format began in 2009. For a look at the other sites, follow this ITA link: http://www.itatennis.com/Events/Kick-OffWeekend.htm
Georgia is serving as a host for the fourth time, and the Bulldogs are a perfect 6-0 in these matches. In 2011, Georgia went on the road and registered a 1-1 mark at North Carolina. The Bulldogs will be aiming to advance to the national tournament for the 23rd time in school history as it started in 1988. Georgia has claimed indoor team titles in 1994, 1995 and 2002 and finished second three times (2001, 2004, 2009). Overall, Georgia is 48-19 in ITA National Indoor Team Championship play.
In 2012, Georgia wound up 24-5 and ranked No. 6 nationally. Currently, the Bulldogs have four players ranked nationally in singles along with a pair of doubles teams. Sophomore Lauren Herring headlines the group at No. 8 with a 20-2 mark this season. Junior Maho Kowase is ranked No. 18 with an 18-5 record while junior Kate Fuller is No. 54 (14-2 record) and freshman Makenzie Craft is No. 76 (10-8 record). The Fuller/Herring tandem is 12-5 and ranked No. 15 while Kowase and junior Lilly Kimbell are No. 22 with a 7-1 mark.
Columbia has three players ranked in singles including senior Nicole Bartnik who is ranked No. 24 and one doubles team. The Panthers top player is junior Abigail Tere-Apisah who is ranked No. 29 in singles and No. 19 in doubles with sophomore Masa Grgan. The Cowgirls are led by sophomore Meghan Blevins who is ranked No. 89 in singles and No. 39 in doubles with senior C.C. Sardinha.
Georgia has never faced Columbia, owns a 15-0 record against the Panthers and a 7-5 mark versus the Cowgirls. Bulldog coach Jeff Wallace is in his 28th season at the helm and has a career record of 583-146 for a .800 winning percentage.
"Columbia's got a great team and has some ranked players, and we know that they're going to be excited to come in here and play us," said Wallace. "We have to be ready for a really good match. That's what you want. It's fun because it's the opening weekend of the college season, and we're at home, and we're playing against a great team. It's going to be a good weekend."