Bulldogs Set For Tough Road Matches
ATHENS, Ga. --- The sixth-ranked Georgia men’s tennis team will travel to take on a pair of top-15 opponents on the road this weekend, heading to meet No. 13 Vanderbilt on Fri., March 22 at 3 p.m. EDT at the Currey Tennis Center in Nashville before facing fourth-ranked Kentucky on Sun., March 24 at 1 p.m. at the Boone Tennis Complex in Lexington.
It marks a big weekend for the Bulldogs in the conference race, as Georgia, Vandy, and UK are all tied atop the SEC East and overall standings coming in. The Bulldogs have faced both teams once already this season.
UGA is fresh off a weekend sweep of Eastern Division rivals Florida and South Carolina to sit at 12-4 (4-1 SEC).
Live scoring will be available for both matches on Georgiadogs.com courtesy of the host schools.
LOOKING AT THE COMMODORES: Vanderbilt stands at No. 13 in the nation and 13-4 (4-1) after sweeping Ole Miss and Mississippi State each by 4-3 scores in their last two outings.
Vandy is led by Ryan Lipman (24-6) and Kris Yee (21-4) each with 20+ wins on the year. Lipman is a staggering 11-2 at No. 1 singles on the dual match season, while Yee is 10-1 at No. 5.
In the rankings, Lipman came in at No. 19 in the latest singles poll while Gonzales Austin is No. 54.
Georgia faced the Commodores earlier this season and earned a 4-3 win at home in the dual match opener and the opening round of the ITA Kickoff Weekend played indoors. The Bulldogs are 48-4 in the all-time series.
Former Bulldog letterwinner and all-conference performer Jamie Hunt is currently in his third season as an assistant coach for the Commodores.
LOOKING AT THE WILDCATS: Kentucky is the third team tied for first place in the SEC with a 4-1 record, also 16-4 overall. The Wildcats are ranked fourth in the ITA team poll this week after beating Ole Miss 4-1 and MSU 4-2 last weekend. The No. 4 ranking is UK’s highest since 2002. It will be the sixth top-10 and third top-5 opponent of the season for Georgia.
Kentucky is led by No. 31-ranked Anthony Rossi and No. 32 Tom Jomby, while the team of Jomby and Kevin Lai are No. 29 in doubles.
Georgia fell by a 4-2 score to UK earlier this season at the ITA National Team Indoor Championships, but the Bulldogs hold a 40-9 all-time record vs. the Wildcats including last season’s win in the SEC championship finals.
LAST TIME OUT: The fifth-ranked University of Georgia men’s tennis team posted a sweep of some SEC East opponents this weekend, defeating No. 35 Florida 4-0 on Friday before downing No. 32 South Carolina by a 5-2 score Sunday in Athens. The Bulldogs used the wins to improve to 12-4 (4-1) on the season, now winners of seven of their last eight outings and remaining undefeated at 9-0 at home on 2013.
WAGLAND NAMED SEC FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK: Georgia men’s tennis rookie Ben Wagland has been named the Southeastern Conference’s Freshman of the Week, the league office announced Wednesday morning.
It marks the first weekly honor for the Sydney, Australia native after he went 4-0 last weekend - his third undefeated week out of the last four for the Bulldogs (12-4, 4-1 SEC). He improved to 10-3 in singles and 9-4 in doubles on the dual match slate, while his performance helped Georgia to a weekend sweep of SEC East rivals Florida and South Carolina with the Bulldogs now sitting tied atop the league standings.
Currently No. 5 in doubles and No. 71 in singles, Wagland is the highest-ranked SEC freshman in both polls. Both of his doubles victories over the weekend came against ranked pairs.
DIAZ MOVES UP ON WINS LIST: In the win against Mississippi State, UGA head coach Manuel Diaz passed former UK coach Dennis Emery for second place all-time on the SEC wins list with 569. He trails only Georgia legend Dan Magill, who won 706 matches in 34 seasons at the helm from 1955-88.
Diaz has been the head coach 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 an 18-6 mark overall and a 10-3 record in dual matches, including a clinch vs. VCU to send Georgia back to National Indoors. He owns a team-high five match clinchers. Austin Smith is 17-6 overall and also 10-3 in duals, while Nick Wood was out to a 4-1 start before suffering an ankle injury.
Marco Nunez has won the first five dual matches he played in.
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 March 12, marking the Bulldogs’ highest ranking of the 2012-13 season, and fell one spot to No. 6 in the March 19 poll.
Individually, 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 in the last singles poll.
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 return home to host SEC newcomer Texas A&M on Sun., March 31 at 1 p.m., for Georgia’s lone match of the weekend. Live blog, video, and scoring will be available on Georgiadogs.com and admission is free.