Georgia Returns Home Vs. Gators, Gamecocks
ATHENS, Ga. --- The No. 5 Georgia men’s tennis team returns home to play a pair of match-ups with SEC East rivals as it welcomes No. 35 Florida (7-5, 1-1 SEC) and No. 32 South Carolina (11-5, 1-1) to the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
The Bulldogs (10-4, 2-1) will take on the Gators on Fri., March 15 at 2:30 p.m. before hosting the Gamecocks on Sun., March 17 at 1 p.m. Both matches will include live video and live scoring on Georgiadogs.com in addition to the Georgia Tennis Live Chat.
Admission is free and open to the public.
LOOKING AT THE GATORS: Florida enters the weekend at 7-5 overall and 1-1 at the outset of conference play, coming off a 4-3 loss to the Gamecocks last Friday in Columbia, S.C. The Gators are 1-1 on the road this season.
Florida is led by three players with seven wins apiece in dual match action: Michael Alford (7-2, 1-0), Billy Federhofer (7-2, 1-0), and Gordon Watson (7-1, 0-0). In doubles, the team of Alford and Diep is 4-4 while the duo of Stephane Piro and Bob van Overbeek is 4-2. Diep (No. 75) and van Overbeek (No. 123) are currently ranked in the singles poll for UF, and the Piro/van Overbeek duo is No. 57 in doubles this week.
Georgia is 54-18 all-time vs. Florida, including two wins in 2012 - one of which was a thrilling come-from-behind 4-3 victory on the road in Gainesville during the dual match season. With the team match tied at 3-3 and senior Wil Spencer down 5-1 in the third on the only remaining court, the senior rattled off six straight games including a break for the match to give Georgia the win.
LOOKING AT THE GAMECOCKS: South Carolina brings in an 11-5 record and a 1-1 mark in SEC play after the victory over Florida last weekend. The Gamecocks are paced by Thiago Pinheiro’s 15-4 overall record and 10-2 clip in duals, while 106th-ranked Tsvetan Mihov also owns 10 dual match wins.
In doubles, the team of Kyle Koch and Harry Menzies have the best record at 8-4. For USC, the duo of Mihov and Chip Cox are currently ranked No. 50 by the ITA.
Georgia is 33-6 all-time vs. the Gamecocks, including last season’s 6-1 win in Columbia.
LAST TIME OUT: The Georgia men’s tennis team came away with a split this weekend in its first SEC road trip of the season, falling 4-3 in a heartbreaker to No. 9 Ole Miss on Friday in Oxford before defeating No. 11 Mississippi State on Sunday by a 4-1 score in Starkville.
On Sunday the teams played singles first due to the threat of inclement weather, and Georgia won four matches to clinch before doubles had to be played.
DIAZ MOVES UP ON WINS LIST: In the win against the Bulldogs of the West, UGA head coach Manuel Diaz passed former UK coach Dennis Emery for second place all-time on the SEC wins list, now sitting with 569 for his career behind only Georgia legend Dan Magill, who won 706 matches in 34 seasons.
Diaz has been at the helm in Athens for 25 years, owning four NCAA championships, and is one of only two active men’s tennis coaches with multiple titles to his name.
YOUNG PUPS: Georgia has gotten strong play at the outset of the season from the team’s freshmen. Rookie Ben Wagland has compiled a 16-6 mark overall and an 8-3 record in dual matches, including a clinch vs. VCU to send Georgia back to National Indoors. Austin Smith is 15-6 overall and also 8-3 in duals, while Nick Wood was out to a 4-1 start before suffering an ankle injury.
Marco Nunez won the first three dual matches he played in, snagging one victory each at No. 5 and No. 6 vs. ETSU and Furman, respectively, and adding straight-set wins in the 4-1 SEC opening win vs. Tennessee and the 7-0 win over William & Mary.
At No. 71 in singles and No. 5 in doubles, Wagland is currently the highest-ranked freshman in the SEC in both polls.
IN THE RANKINGS: Georgia jumped two spots to No. 5 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) team poll released Tuesday afternoon, marking the Bulldogs’ highest ranking of the 2012-13 season. Georgia was last No. 5 at the conclusion of the 2011-12 season after its run to the NCAA quarterfinals.
In the individual poll, senior KU Singh came in at No. 7, followed by sophomore Nathan Pasha - with a team-best 21 wins - at No. 39. Freshman Ben Wagland is ranked a career-high No. 71 while junior Hernus Pieters came in at No. 101 this week.
In doubles, the team of Pieters and Wagland are No. 5, while Pasha and Garrett Brasseaux are No. 39 and Singh and Pasha are No. 53.Georgia has been ranked in the ITA top-10 every week since March 29, 2011.
ON DECK: The Bulldogs are on the road next weekend, traveling to face Vanderbilt and Kentucky on Friday and Sunday, respectively. The Vandy match is set for 3 p.m. ET on Fri., March 22 in Nashville while the rematch with the Wildcats will kick off at 1 p.m. on Sun., March 24 in Lexington.