Bulldogs Head To National Team Indoors
ATHENS, Ga. --- The University of Georgia men's tennis team (4-1) will join the nation's elite teams when it competes for a national indoor title at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships Feb. 15-18 in Seattle, Wash.
The sixth-seeded Bulldogs will face off against the No. 12 seed and SEC counterpart Ole Miss in round of 16 action, with first serve scheduled for Friday at 11 am. ET at the Seattle Tennis Club. With a win, Georgia would meet the winner of No. 3 UCLA-No. 14 Tennessee in quarterfinal action on Saturday. The semifinals are scheduled for Sunday and the final Monday.
Georgia punched its ticket to the 16-team field by winning two matches at the ITA Kickoff Weekend in Athens Jan. 25-26, defeating Vanderbilt and VCU in the first and second rounds. The field is comprised of 15 other top teams - 14 of which won their regional matches as well as the University of Washington, which earned at automatic bid as event host.
Live scoring will be available on Georgiadogs.com and the Georgia Tennis Live Chat will be rolling as long as the Bulldogs are in action. Teams are guaranteed at least three matches.
GEORGIA AT THE ITA NATIONAL INDOOR: The Bulldogs have won the National Indoor twice (2006, `07) and have reached the finals six times (1982, `94, `95, `97, `98, 2009). The tournament began in 1973 and Georgia has advanced to it every year except 2003.
In 2012 Georgia moved out of the Kickoff Weekend with wins over TCU and Virginia Tech and went on to reach the semifinals of the Indoor, where it fell to eventual national champion Southern Cal.
LOOKING AT OLE MISS: Currently ranked No. 12 nationally, Ole Miss enters the National Indoor with an overall record of 2-1 in dual match play. Last time out the Rebels lost 4-2 to in-state rival Mississippi State in their annual non-conference clash played in Jackson, Miss.
The Rebels boast three players ranked in the ITA singles poll including No. 5 Jonas Lutjen, No. 33 Nik Scholtz, and No. 95 William Kallberg. In doubles, the team of Kallberg and Adrian Forberg Skogeng are currently No. 25, while Scholtz and Lutjen are No. 43.
Statistically, Lutjen leads the squad with an 18-5 singles record, while Kallberg is 14-4 and Johan Backstrom is 14-10 in 2012-13.
The Rebels advanced to Seattle with regional round wins over Columbia (4-1) and NC State (4-0) last month in Oxford. Ole Miss is making its 18th overall trip to National Indoors and first since 2010.
SERIES HISTORY: Georgia is 35-9 all-time vs. Ole Miss coming off a 4-3 win over the Rebels last season at home.
Incidentally, the last time Ole Miss reached the National Indoors in 2010, the Bulldogs and Rebels met in the round of 16 with Georgia earning a 4-3 win.
LAST TIME OUT: The No. 6 Georgia men's tennis team rebounded from a lost doubles point, winning five of six first sets in singles en route to a commanding 5-2 win over 65th-ranked Georgia Tech last Friday afternoon at the brand new Ken Byers Tennis Complex in Atlanta.
With the win the Bulldogs improved to 4-1 on the season, dropping their in-state rival to 2-4. Georgia is now 59-9 all-time against the Yellow Jackets, good for its highest win total against any opponent in history. The win also avenged the Bulldogs' 4-3 loss to Tech in Atlanta in 2011, a setback that snapped a 24-match winning streak for UGA in the rivalry series.
YOUNG PUPS: Georgia has gotten strong play at the outset of the season from the team's freshmen. Rookie Ben Wagland has compiled a 12-4 mark overall and a 4-1 record in dual matches, including a clinch vs. VCU to send Georgia back to National Indoors. Austin Smith is 10-4 overall and 3-1 in duals, while Nick Wood - who joined the team in January - is also 3-1.
The Bulldogs will need to rely heavily on their rookies in 2013, as at least two freshmen have played singles in each of the first five matches, while three have played four times. Georgia lost three of last season's regular starters to graduation.
IN THE RANKINGS: Georgia remained No. 6 in the ITA team rankings for the fourth straight week on Feb. 5, and a new team ranking will not be released until Feb. 19 after Indoors. With that, the Bulldogs have now been ranked in the top six every week since May 2, 2011 and in the top-10 since March 29, 2011.
Individually, Georgia boasts three players in the singles top 20 in KU Singh (No. 8), Hernus Pieters (No. 16), and Nathan Pasha (No. 19). In doubles, the team of Pieters and freshman Ben Wagland are No. 5 while Wagland is No. 29 with Pasha.
ON DECK: The Bulldogs will return home for their next four matches, opening the outdoor season on Sun., Feb. 24 vs. Furman at 1 p.m. That will be immediately followed by a meeting with East Tennessee State on Mon., Feb. 25 at 2:30 p.m.